The council has just undergone a dramatic restructure of their children’s services, which involves disbanding the traditional model of specialist teams in favour of a network of social care pods.
Ann Domeney, head of early help and safeguarding, talks about the introduction of this radical way of working and how the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead see this as a key factor in making a difference to the outcome for children and young people, as well as achieving a happy and supportive environment for their dedicated team of staff.
“We know that social work is a difficult and challenging job and we want to make sure that we create the best possible environment for our staff to develop their skills and to be supported. We also want to involve them in helping us to develop local services that make the most difference at the earliest point to help children and their families.
Creating the best environment to work in and support children
“As a result we have spent time researching some of the most effective ways to achieve the best for our staff and our children and believe a pod style of working could be the answer.
“Each pod comprises a consultant practitioner, two qualified social workers (one senior), and a newly qualified social worker. In addition, there will be an assistant social worker and specialist worker such as a parenting worker or a youth worker to provide co-working and support when required (they will not carry any separate caseloads).There is also one case coordinator to provide high quality business support.
“The pod system provides a number of advantages for the workforce, particularly when it comes to support and supervision. It has been shown to be successful in putting the needs of the child first, with better outcomes for children in the long term – both major contributory factors behind the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s decision to adopt this approach.
“The broad mix of level and skills within the pod enables individuals to work more closely together in a qualitative way, facilitating learning for the less experienced and the professional development of those looking to progress more quickly within their profession. “As important is the ability to discuss the cases with each other and work together to provide the highest quality of care. The smaller teams mean that staff at all levels are given a voice and can share their knowledge, and that everyone is kept up-to-date on each case.
Less paperwork, more social work
“Having a dedicated case co-ordinator for such a small team of social workers also helps to reduce the administrative tasks of each individual, effectively enabling social workers to focus on ‘what they are good at’ – social work itself – without such a high element of paperwork.
“With each pod being given set caseloads, the needs of the child are highlighted and emphasised. Social workers have the tools to enable them to be much more child-focused as it allows them to remain with a child through all of the stages of the case, from initial assessment, up to and including final placement – and thereby providing a better understanding of the ‘end-to-end’ processes of the whole of the child’s journey.
“Similarly, continuity of support for children across children in need, child protection and care proceedings results in better knowledge of social workers around individual cases (for example, less risk of key information/perspectives needing to be re-learned by a new social worker at each stage of the process), which in turn provides better support and outcomes.
“We’re excited by the prospects of this new style of working for us and are currently looking for experienced social workers and senior practitioners who share our vision to come and join us.”
A great place to live and work
Windsor and Maidenhead is a fantastic borough in which to live and work, perfectly situated just 20 minutes from London and with excellent transport links. There are some extremely good schools in the area and generally a very good quality of life for families. The council offers its staff some great flexible benefits, including free parking, discounts on local attractions and a final salary pension scheme.
There is also currently a £2,000 market supplement on offer for the next two years (to be reviewed annually) and superb support and development opportunities.
Current vacancies within Early Help and Safeguarding include:
• Experienced social workers (£32,136 – £36,300 pa)
• Senior practitioners (£35,848 – £40,042 pa)
• Service leader – safeguarding and children in care (£56,838 – £65,000 pa)
If you have a powerful strategic vision for children’s services, a strong sense of purpose, share the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s ambition for their residents, are committed to working in a team and are passionate about delivering an exceptional service, then Windsor and Maidenhead want to hear from you, because they share that passion.
For an informal discussion about working for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s Children’s Services, please contact Ann Domeney, head of early help and safeguarding, on 01628 683177. To apply for any of our vacancies, visit: http://powered.jobsgopublic.com/rbwm/