It’s the first day of our new service structure. We were given less than four weeks’ notice of which staff were in the new teams. Understandably people complained about having to change location with little notice, and the list of staff assigned to the team that I’ll be managing was only confirmed last week.
At present we have no admin support and unfinished offices. I feel so overwhelmed by the chaos I can’t really think straight. More worrying than this is the impact on service users. I have just sent out the list of the cases that need to be transferred to new workers and I know that this will mean effective relationships with young people will be disrupted with virtually no warning. More loss and fracture for those already with very little support and stability.
Another day at the desk, just trying to get my head round the complications of the new team and structure. I’m finally up to date with my emails and as solutions begin to emerge I start to feel a bit more centred and steady for the first time in weeks. I return to my screen and suddenly see an email from the head of service. They have just been given a date for our service to be inspected. It begins in two weeks. I can’t quite believe it. It feels like the last thing we need.
Today the managers in our service have a meeting with the service directors to address some of our concerns about the recent changes. It’s good of them to give the time for the meeting, but there are definitely signs that any dissent will be looked on very unfavourably.
The restructure has stemmed from the need for the council to make huge savings. Posts have been lost and the management layer above me has essentially disappeared. Specialist teams have been moved into a generic preventative service, with the argument that collaborative working will mean much greater effectiveness and efficiency.
It’s all good in theory, and hard to object to when it is being presented so persuasively, but the reality is that we have been working collaboratively in a multi-disciplinary team for years, and the ‘new ways of working’ don’t feel new at all. It’s more about rebranding, than a fundamentally new approach.
The new targets being set are so excessively high that it seems people have confused collaborative working with magic! I worry about these clever people and this clever branding, because this is actually about cuts and real reductions to our service. They are calling it transformation of our service, but it feels more like decimation.
I point out that due to the reduction in management posts some of the people round the table are now due to be line managing too many members of staff. They will also not be getting their own supervision from someone with a social work background.
I reference Munro, and safe levels of supervision. They write down my concerns but I don’t have much hope they will do anything. Problems like this interrupt their bright, sparkling vision and it’s much easier to keep believing in the magic than face the reality: that cuts affect real people and members of staff can only cope with so much change.
Would you like to write a social work diary? Send us a piece between 500 and 700 words long. All entries will be published anonymously.