‘Overwhelmed’ social worker who deflected from struggles sanctioned

Conduct panel issues three-year caution after social worker whose team was “fire fighting” fails to prioritise high-risk cases

stress
Photo: Potographee.eu/Fotolia (posed by model)

An experienced social worker who was “overwhelmed” by her workload has been cautioned by the HCPC after she failed to admit she was struggling.

A conduct committee found the social worker, who was a team manager in children’s services at the time, moved a disabled child into a foster placement without a placement planning meeting having taken place and failed to ensure visits were carried out to service users in two high-risk cases that needed urgent action. These matters constituted misconduct, the panel found.

The social worker put the failings down to the pressures and staff shortages in her team which had left her social workers “fire-fighting”.

Chaotic

Witnesses described the team as facing a “chaotic” situation.

“The registrant was overwhelmed by the work and was not coping. She was working long hours, including evenings and weekends. The registrant was carrying out case work which would not normally be carried out by a manager. She now acknowledges the hours she worked were not healthy” the judgment said.

However, the panel said the social worker did not communicate fully to her managers the extent of the difficulties she was facing and instead “made efforts to deflect any impression that she was not coping”.

“Her focus was to ask for more resources for the team,” the panel said. It was not until the social worker had been in place for more than a year that she shared concerns about the safety of children, the panel said.

“Even then, she did not highlight either orally or in writing any specific cases that were of particular concern,” the panel added, these included cases where she made alleged failings.

Four team members

At one point the team, which was meant to have 7.5 full time equivalent members, was reduced to four. As a result of the short staffing, many cases had not been allocated to social workers. This meant, as team manager, the social worker had around 40 unallocated cases in her name in line with her local authority’s policy.

The panel said the staff shortages and high workload of the social worker’s team were the most important “mitigating factors” when considering her conduct. However, it found she should have prioritised visits in two cases due to the high level of risk, “even in the context that not all cases could be allocated” to social workers in her team.

“It is an essential requirement for a social worker in a management position to prioritise the cases involving the highest level of risk,” the panel said.

Remorse

The social worker expressed remorse for failings where children were put at risk. She agreed there were steps she should have taken in relation to three service users but did not take and said she had learned lessons from her experiences. She told the HCPC she was committed to social work and enjoying her role, particularly direct work with children.

But the panel said it was concerned the social worker had not “demonstrated full insight” into her shortcomings.

“The panel was concerned that, while the registrant agreed that she should have acted differently, she did not accept personal culpability in respect of any of the particulars. She denied that any of the particulars amounted to misconduct,” it said.

“In her answers she placed great emphasis on the mitigating factors, to the extent that she was suggesting that they exonerated her from wrongdoing.”

The social worker, who has since moved jobs, said she would not wish to work as a manager again in the future as she had had problems in that role which had affected her confidence and health.

Maintain confidence

The panel concluded that, while it didn’t have to sanction the social worker as the risk of her repeating the failings was “negligible”, a three-year caution order was the best option to maintain confidence in the profession and act as a “deterrent” to other social workers.

“This is not a case where the lapse can be described as isolated, limited or relatively minor in nature. However, in the panel’s judgment, it is a case where meaningful conditions of practice cannot be imposed and suspension from practice would be disproportionate,” the panel said.

“This is a case where the risk of repetition is low and the conduct is out of character. In the context of the registrant’s long career, the misconduct occurred over a relatively short period of time. The Panel considered carefully whether the level of the registrant’s insight was sufficient to impose a caution order.

“The panel has made a clear finding that its concern about the level of the Registrant’s insight does not have implications for the registrant’s work as a social worker and that there are no public protection concerns in this case. The panel decided that the Registrant has a sufficient level of insight for consideration of a caution order.”

67 Responses to ‘Overwhelmed’ social worker who deflected from struggles sanctioned

  1. Tom J December 9, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    Wow! If this is where the HCPC puts the bar- there are presently thousands of social workers and team managers who need to be put in front of their firing squad. There must be many team managers reading this thinking ‘there for the grace of god…’

    Look at recent caseload Freedom of Information requests for most Local Authorities and you will see child protection caseloads in excess of 30 children. The solution? a) Sanction the employer and make them employ more social workers? Then apologise to the social worker for overwhelming them with an unreasonable workload. OR b) Put the social worker in front of the HCPC and point out all of the social workers failings as a result of having 40+ cases.

    It pains me that social workers are funding through their registration fees this HCPC bully boy regime which locates each and every problem at the foot of workers whilst turning a complete blind eye to employers/all context.

    Ive seen cases where Local Authorities are referring their own social workers who have 40+ cases and fail to meet the needs of each of these children. ITS MADNESS. Who gave their social worker 40 cases?

    The HCPC works as a smokescreen for Local Authorities funded by social workers.

    If you are a social worker reading this and you have 40 cases and you are not fully meeting the needs of each and every child. Guess what- its your fault.

    If you are a social worker or team manager- please get off your knees and join a trade union.

    • Sarah December 10, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

      Completely agree with these comments. As an adults Social Worker I look at the HCPC judgments and do indeed think ‘there but for the grace of god’….it is madness that councils are getting away with overloading both social workers and team managers and that these workers are then in turn being ‘sanctioned’ by the HCPC, without any responsibility given to widespread unacceptable levels of workload. Any wonder why so many social workers burn out.

    • We care December 10, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

      I’m a social worker and I care. I’ve seen many colleagues leave the field due to stress and low salaries. I’m not saying we are iall innocent because some of us cut corners but for those who really care we are treated wrong. I will also join others and leave the field bcs it caused me my health, opportunities and relationships. I hope someone figures this out. Seeing one of children dead on the six o’clock news is our worst nightmare and worked hard to make sure our children are safe and happy but the system is too abusive to us as well.

    • David Steare December 12, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

      I wish I could agree that joining a trade union is useful. I regret paying into BASW for around 25 years. I couldn’t work out any significant difference between the views of BASW ARAS staff and the views of LA line managers. BASW has seemingly offered no credible opposition to government policies since Hilton Dawson. That social workers are being sacrificed for the ‘command & control’ failings of central government and local authorities is something that seems inevitable under neoliberal and neo-capitalist regimes. Caring has been replaced by meeting targets, and the attack on social work will have been successful when vacancy rates exceed employment rates.

      • Mike December 12, 2016 at 11:37 pm #

        The worst thing is that these organisations HCPC and BASW know what’s going on in the field. But what are they doing about it? I am mortified by their action in this case

    • Iain December 12, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

      I couldn’t agree more. We pay for the privilege of being lambasted and publicly pilloried when the issue is the system not the individual. I note there is no mention of the management culture. I’d bet a sizable proportion of my pension that she was not supported or supervised well enough! Makes my blood boil!

    • R jOHNSON December 13, 2016 at 11:05 am #

      Tom thank you for speaking on behalf of many of us who are having to face the brunt of the wider organisational problems and austerity measures. They want more for less and then we get blamed for not managing what I see as ‘being set up to fail’

      How can a worker effectively manage 40 cases and offer vulnerable children and families a robust and safe service.

  2. Hels December 9, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

    Did the line manager, operations manager or head of service , get sanctioned!!!!!! I very much doubt it (if indeed hold a social work qualification)

  3. Sandra December 9, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

    I totally agree with Tom I really think that the HCPC does nothing to support social workers, their always finding fault. I agree that the manager should have spoken up and ask for more support, but I am sure her employers was aware of the struggles and hardship she was going through due to lack of staffing.

    All I can say to anyone when your feeling overwhelmed with lack of support from senior management do not stick around for too long, you walk as it appears that no matter when you try to do your best as a social worker your always seen as a scapegoat by the public,media, local authorities and HCPC.

    • Dave December 12, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

      Too true happening to my partner at the moment….sad and angry……we need to form our own union of social services staff….

    • Laura December 13, 2016 at 11:53 pm #

      Can I ask whether you have raised your staffing issues directly with senior management? I am a children’s safeguarding Social Worker and face all of the issues mentioned here, due to poor staffing. However it is not true that senior management always know what the particular day to day challenges are because they are often not sitting with their staff. If they do know, then it is easy to do nothing about the problems unless they are repeatedly told what the problems are and you must do that by raising the problem with them. Raise it through the management structure then argue your case. I have considered leaving my job in the past but it is always an idle thought because I know that if I leave it will not solve the problem, and it is my families and the children on my case load who will continue to suffer while I get to ignore the problem. Raise the problems. Raise them individually, raise them collectively, and land the problem directly at the doorstep of those whose job it is to solve staffing issues, and then force them to commit to solving the problem by telling them everyday if you have to that the children on your caseloads are at risk from their actions, and you have massive safeguarding concerns due to the poorly staffed safeguarding services. Raise the problem. Assuming senior managers know what the troubles are does nothing to help the situation. Remember that the problem is not that you are scapegoated so much as if you run from the problem, your children are still left behind. Raise it.

      • Yellow Biker Girl December 16, 2016 at 12:15 am #

        I’ve raised these types of concerns as a senior manager to even more senior managers. I got precisely nowhere. The situation was so risky with exactly the situation reported here that I felt compelled to blow the whistle to Ofsted. They wrote to the LA who commissioned an “investigation” whilst looking for spurious reasons to sack the whistleblower. I am utterly speechless and heartbroken the profession I felt so proud and privileged to be a member of has sunk to such a level that it will place a front line social worker in the stocks rather than stand up to rafts of cuts and initiatives which have brought safeguarding to its knees.

  4. Borstal Boy December 10, 2016 at 9:26 am #

    Yet again?

    I look forward to reading the adjudication against the so called “managers” who allowed a team to run on almost half staff and who failed to support a front line manager who was struggling. And I’d love to sit down with whomever it was that referred this to the HCPC in the first place. Are LA disciplinary proceedings not enough of a punishment. Another egregious example of a regulatory body not fit for purpose. I bitterly resent paying money to enable this crap to continue. Disgusting soul destroying nonsense and the real culprits yet again get away with it. Beyond angry.

    • Stacey December 12, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

      I couldn’t share more in your clear anguish here. I am absolutely astonished at the treatment of social workers for easily made mistakes. It’s as if it is forgotten that we are after all, humans. Humans who care about people and want to help everyone but cannot and struggle to do so with limited support!

    • tired sw December 15, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

      Yes, I resent it too. A quango, the purpose of which is to look as if it is doing something for the salaries paid, but if it disappeared tomorrow I for one would not notice.

  5. Julie M December 10, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    As a practicing social worker in the US, and having worked across many contexts such as child protective services, public welfare, and inpatient psychiatric social work, I absolutely agree with Tom J’s point on placing responsibility where it would best solve the problem. This “blame the victim” sanctioning reflects the HCPC board as being representatives of a corrupt oversight process, funded by the required fees of social workers to support their own oppression. How absurd is that! As change agents, we must support fair work practices that protect the populations we serve and the workers.

  6. Christine December 10, 2016 at 7:52 pm #

    I just completed my first semester of graduate school, and I am already concerned about warnings I am receiving from people who left social work due to burn out. I do not want to end up in a similar situation once I begin. A coworker with my current employer quit social work because of overwork, and is now working in IT. A social worker has to have time for their own life; time for self care and time to decompress from the stress.

  7. Jo Coleman December 10, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

    We are all burned out; underpaid; overburdened. And when something happens…it is our fault…never the system.

  8. L A worker 2 December 11, 2016 at 8:39 pm #

    Sadly little consideration is given to experience of the social worker and complexity of the case but top and bottom is that austerity is leading to children being unsafe not professionals. The lack of money and short term thinking is dis empowering people who care and want to make change and blaming for not doing more. It’s time someone asked how much more can we expect them to give. Corporate managers look worried with no answers what more needs to be said. Councils need to streamline the board and stop taking from the shop floor!

  9. Paul December 12, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    HCPC do not really have any insight into crisis social work is in. Been there, at least weekly I asked for more staff due to shortages. Response? No budget, increase case loads. Result…staff leave and go sick. Social workers and team managers in firing line of blame all the time. Senior managers sit in meetings number crunching, for many, they see practice through rose tinted glasses.

    • Louise December 12, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

      I agree with all comments. The HCPC have no insight or idea what it is actually like to be Team Manager or frontline Social Worker in either children’s or Adult social services. Disgusted with this sanction and the message that it sends out too all understaffed, under resourced and overstretched social work teams who are working so hard to try and achieve the unachievable in a culture of blame and bullying that individualises systemic failings and again sees those senior manages and a whole social care system that is in crises completely let off the hook and unnacountable for the wholly unacceptable demands it places on its workforce. Speechless, angry and very nearly on the verge of leaving a profession that is now toxic and making myself and colleagues all around me with unacceptable levels of workloads and stress.

  10. Andy D December 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    Blimey Kick a person when they’re down. Do the panel members have insight of what life is like in the real world? If the subject was working long hours and weekends already where do they presume she had time to reflect and prioritise the work that was required.

  11. Pancho December 12, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    I’ve got no confidence in HCPC or the equivalent body in Wales. How do I go about sanctioning them?

    • Laura December 13, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

      Use the government’s petitions site. Create a petition if no confidence in the hcpc social services then government will need to debate it

  12. Pancho December 12, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    The various unions are playing a blinder as usual, doing nothing to support beleaguered social workers

    • Laura December 13, 2016 at 11:57 pm #

      If you are a member of a union, then YOU are the union. So what are you doing?

      • Pancho December 21, 2016 at 9:55 am #

        er, I’m not the union, I’m a member of a union, along with hundreds of thousands of others, the vast majority of whom do not care for social workers.

        The union in my authority agreed to a differential in pay between adult and children’s services and then following a readjustment agreed that all senior pracs would be placed on the bottom of the pay scale, regardless of length of service. When I asked for support to appeal this, I was told that there was support for an appeal as there was no mechanism for an appeal, as the branch had agreed it.

        If you think individual members, who are already exhausted, can summon the energy to change policy you are naïve.

        I pay me fee, so that the paid reps can support me from oppressive and unfair practices, not so that I can spend my leisure hours fighting ’em.

        Why should everything be a battle?

        You tell me, what are the various unions doing to support social workers against the heavy handed practices of our overlords?,

        • Claire December 21, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

          Pancho, I fully agree!

  13. rosemarytrustam December 12, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    It does make emphasise the importance of holding senior managers to account for failing to even consider the impact of such cuts – they should be being pro-active to monitor the impact and support their staff. It also underlines the problem of an agenda that appears to come right from the top ie Government – who prescribe cuts and don’t listen to what this means. It gets passed on down to those holding the frontline where the expectation seems to be that you should manage or somehow it’s your failure. LAs should be telling the government in no uncertain terms what cuts actually mean and telling then public; managers should be telling their senior managers who should be telling the council – and not take this on as if it’s their problem/failure. We’re well past the time when any efficiencies could even be made…. austerity also means more need. As social workers if we are asked to do the impossible it IS incumbent on us to tell our employers in writing, and not be intimidated into taking it on ourselves. It’s our job to make professional judgements and tell managers and councils. They should be made accountable for their failure to secure adequate resources – not pass it all down to the frontline and ultimately to the most vulnerable in the general public.

    • Laura December 14, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

      This is absolutely true and I could not agree with you more. It is, in fact, some thing I am doing individually and encouraging my colleagues to do collectively. These matters should be escalated urgently to senior management by everyone where they are risking children’s lives and doing injustice to families where they are denied early and timely support. The head of each LA should absolutely be challenging the government on their disastrous decisions. They won’t challenge of their own volition, that much is clear.

  14. Dave December 12, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

    When I started.in Probation 30 years ago my supervisor said….”if you make a mistake here you can here all the doors slamming right to county hall” looks like even when you don’t have the resources or time the doors will now clang all the way to the HCPC….When i did my masters level management course we were told you can delegate responsibility but not accountability…..about time the HCPC learnt this principle. I am disgusted not least because my partner has a disciplinary hearing for similar things coming up.One mistake in 30 years of social work and quite frankly she is being hung out to dry. No doubt she will receive similar treatment at the hands of the HCPC. I am now 55 and also been in social work for 30 years and never seen such appalling treatment of its staff across all sectors. Where is our voice? We need to fight back! Ever decreasing resources, less staff and MORE FECKING RESPONSIBILTY WHEN IT PREDICTABLY GOES WRONG.BASW are useless and the union’s don’t understand what we do or fight for us.We need our own union to fight our corner. We need to fight back. I’ve no idea who to form a new union but think it’s time.e mail me at davewoodwardcbt@gmail.com if any ideas how to go about this….I’ve about had it with this shit system.

    • Floradoradoo December 12, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

      I agree with you Dave and would love to see an organisation develop that is on the side of social workers, understands the complexities of working with trauma and distress and holds organisations to account. Currently there’s no protection and the unions have no teeth.

      It’s a dysfunctional culture of blame and fear. Sadly the “system” seems to be replicating the patterns of abuse we work so hard to protect people from. I’ve lost count of the amount of people I’ve heard of who are going through a disciplinary.

      I hope you’re partner is ok?

  15. Floradoradoo December 12, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

    Appaulling behaviour from both LA and HCPC.

    When are local authorities going to start supporting and nurturing their staff? Fear and blame cultures develop as a response to high stresses within organisations, and seem common place in local authorities around the country.

    These are not environments that support staff to feel like they can say when they feel overwhelmed and overworked. The unions have no teeth anymore and the HCPC are fuelling the blame culture. Is it any wonder that social care is in crisis?

    I agree with other comments – it about time social workers had a decent union that can tackle these issues head-on.

    I feel for this social worker. It’s not OK.

  16. Heather Payne December 12, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

    There seems to be a culture within children’s services that if you can’t cope with whatever they throw at you that you’ll likely be threatened with capability procedures. So why would you feel.confident to express.concerns. ….. and when you dont you are shamed and disciplined. No matter what you do you cant win. It always used to be dammed.if you do dammed.if you dont.in terms.of public perception of case decisions. However now workers have it in terms of not only public perception but now.from.senior colleagues at the office. How can senior managers command the salary they have, yet they come out without any criticism. How can the conservative party not be called before the select committee answering as to why workers are being brought before the hcpc answering for.what quite blatantly is.a funding crisis in all.aspects of social work.

    • David Steare December 15, 2016 at 5:07 pm #

      Heather, you asked how can senior managers command the salary they have? I suggest that their high salaries are for staying silent over welfare attacks on vulnerable people and for attacking individual social workers who can advocate for those attacked. Although all of us ‘guard’ the elite, some guard more than others. I hope Howard Zinn is right when he suggests that there is a ‘Coming Revolt of the Guards’. Maybe the HCPC’s actions and its successor’s actions will over time generate the ‘tipping point’ amongst social workers that such a revolt may need.

  17. Prussik December 12, 2016 at 10:12 pm #

    The Standards for social work employers are not enforceable sadly – only for social workers. Clearly the HCPC panel have never been overworked and pressured to keep their head down and cope with the implied threat that if you speak out that its only you that cant manage and that all tour work would then be revuewed and cross referenced against all the policies to find you incompetent.
    Also if you are working all the hours and are stressed you are unlikely to have the mental strength and self confidence and belief to go to your mgr and say ‘Im not coping’ – where I work they are likely ro tell you to try some colouring to reduce your stress
    Grrrrr – whid be a social worker! – interesting job but treated like shit!

  18. Spotty Dog's mum December 12, 2016 at 10:54 pm #

    HCPC – Shame on you.

  19. Heather December 13, 2016 at 1:58 am #

    Reading these stories, i have to say i am very glad i don’t work in the UK. (Hugs) to you rhat do.

    • Claire December 13, 2016 at 10:37 am #

      Given the level of feeling this has generated and knowing just how stressful it is to be a Social Worker (I work in adults services) is it possible that community care can consider offering a forum of some kind where social workers can discuss and get advice and support from others. I am currently off work with stress and work in an adults team which is so overwhelmed that 4 other social work colleagues are off with stress and so is the Team Manager. I work in a council where bullying of frontline staff is the norm and where it is not unusual for colleagues to breakdown due to the stress. There is no support only blame and the Team does not support each other as everyone is just trying to survive. I do not want to resign, as other colleagues have, as I have been qualified for 10 years and have no idea what else I would do and yet I feel so stressed at the thought of returning that it is making me ill. I have considered applying for other SW jobs but fear that due to being off with stress this will make me unemployable and that I am now so anxious and worn down all the time that I would find going elsewhere just too much. It helps to know that I am not the only SW who can not cope with the pressure and that maybe it is not because I am a failure or incompetent but because it is now just too stressful.

  20. Hope December 13, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    As educators we teach our students social work values of anti oppressive and anti discriminatory practice, yet we expect them to work within a profession where they are largely unsupported by L A’ S and government, oppressed and scapegoated by the current social work regulator HCPC. It saddens me to say but LA and HCPC actions against social workers are breeding a culture of bullying and blame of individual social workers. The panel focus on the individual social worker whithout taking into account the context inwhich they are working. Very frightening for students entering the profession.

  21. LD December 13, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

    No words…speechless !!

  22. Ann marie December 13, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    They still have to scapegoat I’d like to see them work the pressure we do

  23. Sharon Sidders December 14, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    I have been an agency worker for 5 years, working throughout the southwest.
    The one time I said I couldnt keep up the pace (driving 350-400 mi/week), I was let go the next week.

  24. Allesandra December 14, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    The panel concluded that, while it didn’t have to sanction the social worker as the risk of her repeating the failings was “negligible”, a three-year caution order was the best option to maintain confidence in the profession and act as a “deterrent” to other social workers.

    So there you team managers out there – try to do an impossible job as well as you can with massive staffing probs and, as the first line manager, take 100% responsibility and then take all the flack.

    Completely defies belief. And if her manager did not work out that what she was trying to do was impossible, then in my eyes they should at least have been sanctioned too.

    Ah – but that would have been the manager who presumably reported her to the HCPC…..what a farcical, inhumane and terrible system.

  25. Pete December 14, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

    What’s new? I’ve worked for local government in a number of local authorities for 26 years as a social worker and manager in LD, MH and more recently CS. The organisation will hang you out to dry… when it chooses to. It depends on the personality and management style of usually one or two senior managers, whether your face fits and obviously the gravity of the charge, real, contrived or otherwise. The HCPC does not concern itself with systemic issues it seems. It’s adjudicates on individual actions, not what shaped them. It expects contrition and soul searching from the accused but not governmental structures or local practices. The cruelest blow is punishment for an act of omission because you are overwhelmed and unsupported. I’ve seen many dedicated and loyal social workers and managers take chances with their decision making because of incomplete information and pressure of work. It happens all the time and honest hard working people make mistakes. Its how the organisation regards you when it happens. We know how society will regard you and there are no surprises there. If your face fits expect a sideways move, particularly if there is a political dimension to a transgress. If your face doesn’t fit, expect the worse. The question is how to maintain your integrity and professionalism, in the face of maddening workloads, and surviving the organisation. The two are very different and knowing your limitations, and strengths, is key. Knowing that you will be abandoned if things go wrong is sobering, but real. Learn to protect yourself by saying ‘NO’ to ever increasing demands from your employer. I realize its hard to say this and begs inadequacy but saying it, and in writing, giving good reasons will help to protect you. This places your work in a shared political arena. There’s then a trail of culpability. It may not ingratiate you to your overlords, but it will help you to stay sane and to survive. After all, if we don’t, we diminish our ability to deliver social justice to people from a position of our own strength and permit our own oppression. That’s not what social work is about is it?

    • Claire December 15, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

      Thank you Pete for your words, wisdom and advice. I agree with all you and others have said and I will endeavour to put your advice into practice.

  26. Jane Smithson December 14, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    It seems every week we are shocked to read about the HCPC and their judgements. I was amazed to find that Social Workers attending these hearings have no access to legal representation and yet they are run like court marshals. If a SW is reprimanded or even struck off they can try and fine £40,000 to make an appeal to the High Court thereself. But if they lose their appeal they would have to pay their costs and another £35-40,000 for the HCPC’s costs too. This is why I have read that NOT ONE SINGLE SW has ever appealled a HCPC decision. And to think we pay for this…

  27. IAN Kemp December 14, 2016 at 9:45 pm #

    AGREE WITH ALL THE ABOVE It is sad ,,. I fear that social work is now just part of the corporate response to problems > It lost its humanity years ago.. The Unions HCPC HR of local authorities are all absolutely useless. When I started social work all 44 years ago we had very good support from what was called NALGO.. Now any old buffer is a union Rep who may know absolutely nothing about social work . They usually fall in in with H.R .. Its a absolute farce. Going through the motions as it were to satisfy the bureaucratic requirements. The individual social worker is usually treated with contempt.
    Luckily I have now retired from the firing line having done everything in social work from T.M> to social worker .I had at the end very little respect for the social work managerial system and local Gov . bureaucracy which I regarded as a complete wet of time and money. Social needs reform from top to bottom. It should ultimately be removed away from local authority control A new Social are department covering all aspects of care Old peoples homes children’s al the care services should be managed professionally under one department . Proper training for all staff .. Private services should be the minimum . It used to be like that . Norway Denmark Finland seem to able to do this.. I suppose its wishful thinking Perhaps a Labour Gov with much more radical views and Policies might be sympathetic to such a policy . Otherwise the same old stories will continue . Sorry about that . But I cannot see a very happy future for social work as it gets its life further squeezed out of it by the suffocating bureaucracy of Local authority. And the corporate response.f

  28. Wach December 15, 2016 at 3:28 am #

    When we raised a complaint with the Care Council Wales (Welsh equivalent to HPCP) we were advised that CCW would not investigate a complaint unless the complaint had been investigated by the Local Authority

  29. Celia Parker December 15, 2016 at 10:35 am #

    Are any employers sanctioned for failure around employer standards for social workers? What’s the point of the health check and role of Principal Social Workers. A union is only as good as grassroots active membership.

    • IAN Kemp December 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

      Hi As I said above in the present neoliberal climate little can be done to change things.. The force is not with us. It will change but not yet . When who knows. could all change very quickly or take years ,. A more independent professional organisation would help. I am pessimistic about anything to do with Local Gov. Its not in their genes to change anything except to reinforce the status quo via what is called incrementalism. No bureaucratic corporate response to social problems works effectively. The individual is always subordinate to needs of the organisation ,.

  30. Tim Jackson December 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    At least we can be secure in the knowledge that the HCPC have a happy workforce at this time of year – for the last three years they have spent over £17000 per year on a Christmas party for their staff. That’s the annual subscription of 190 of us. You couldn’t make it up.

    • David Steare December 15, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

      Hi Tim, Did you read the comment last May by Roberto Saviano that within the international community the UK is regarded as the most corrupt country because of its financial institutions. Is it little wonder then that the consciences of 224 HCPC staff were rewarded in 2015 by a £17052.15 office party?

  31. Anita Singh December 15, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    My dear colleagues, the likelihood is that most of you are experiencing or have experienced the same situation as the SW referred to in this article, from front line SW through to team managers. Then start to protect yourself in advance, by ensuring that you email senior managers to alert them to the unacceptable workload and keep emailing (even at the risk of upsetting management). Also, ensure you put in your diary everything that you do, so that you cannot be accused of poor time management.

    If you are lucky enough to get a proper supervision session, seek clear senior management instructions as to what they think are the most important tasks to be prioritised and completed. In the event that they fail to provide proper/accurate supervision notes, follow it up with an email to confirm exactly what they have said.

    Exhausted by it all ? Then perhaps within this culture of denial, blame, witch hunts, then look to finding alternative employment, where you can retrieve your life, your role as a partner/husband/wife/parent – as probably by now, you are likely to be neglecting these relationships, as well as others in your life.

    When there is a crisis in SW recruitment, then perhaps the HCPC will look back on the outcome of their dealings. The LA does not give a S@!? as they have chewed up and spat out so many committed and capable individuals, you will just be another one that bites the dust….

  32. sandy beach December 15, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

    what a complete joke, so this is the high point of our hierachial systems check? A interogation on what you did wrong on one occasion, or how over time via taking on a little bit extra then a little bit more, by being manhandled into accepting work when its not possible to do it this is the outcome.

    l had little respect for the org previously but this just takes the biscuit, it is now from this one judgement a license for any disgrunteled manager to make a complaint in regard to any social worker at any level and to get them barred? What are we operating in here, this in reality on any day across the land could be 85% of the workforce, so seeing as SW numbers on courses are going down, and no one can keep full time staff because working conditions are so awful how is this -essentially bullying by the organisation going to improve things?
    They need to come out to work places and to observe ofstead improvement groups where people are talking about the realities of the pressure in the workplace, this leaves every worker in the UK at risk of being hung out to dry, have no illusions we are all at risk and it is another form of divide and rule, to destroy in line for privatisation social work.

  33. Sandra December 15, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Well said

  34. IAN Kemp December 16, 2016 at 9:27 am #

    Yes but you are stuck within a incapable unsympathetic system that is modern social work. None of what you say is really going to make much difference.. Even protecting yourself in advance will not make much difference.. The corporate careerists will always find something to beat you with… I know I have seen it all.

  35. Linda Smith December 17, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    I can so relate to this story, I took on the role as Senior Social Work Practitioner in 2015, and even though I raised similar concerns about not being able to manage work load, which meant working late into the evenings and weekends in an attempt to keep up todate, despite my best efforts I could not see that things would ever get any better, and I began to forget things, which although did not put customers at risk, it just made me feel incompetent!, and so yesterday I stepped down from this senior role, and in January start again in a Social Work role for a different local authority, to continue for role that means a great deal to me!

    • Amy December 19, 2016 at 10:52 am #

      Good luck Linda in your role. I’m sure it will be the right decision for you as it sounds like in your previous role nothing could be any worse than this. I know how it feels as I am going through similar, but Good for you for changing what you can and I wish you the very best.

  36. Ray December 17, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    The treatment of social workers placed in impossible situations by their LA employers by the HCPC is appalling. I qualified as a social worker 36 years ago, have worked in a number of disciplines and roles within LAs and my most stressful role by far was as a team manager in children’s services. In the late 90’s children’s services in my LA was inspected and deemed a failing LA, amongst the worst in the country. I had been appointed as a team manager and a specialist adviser, two months before the inspection. At the time of my appointment following an audit of the combined role by me it was accepted that the role was too big to be carried out effectively by one person and it would be split and the specialist role would be re advertised and appointed to within 3 months and would I do it temporarily in the meantime. Stupidly, I agreed! Before the end of the inspection, two of the most senior members of the senior management team ‘resigned’ and new ones appointed. No one disputed things had to change but: it was made clear to all managers that if ‘you weren’t seen to be part of the solution then you were part of the problem’ and would be forced out; senior managers would delegate all the donkey work for reports etc down the line so team managers at the bottom would do all the work with the deadline always being by close of the same day the senior managers would take the praise; as social workers and managers left in ever increasing numbers they were replaced by agency workers who never stayed for too long – I wonder why!?! It got to the point where no middle and team managers dared to say ‘I’m not coping’ because capability procedures would be initiated, the union was weak, and people were either actively job seeking elsewhere and leaving or ‘resigned’. I was the manager of a specialist team and as my social workers left I wasn’t allowed to replace them as the funding was needed to recruit to more staff in the mainstream children’s teams so for nearly 3 years my team was trying to provide a countywide service with 2 full time social workers when our substantive number of 7 FTEs. We all worked above and beyond our 37 hrs pw and of course my additional advisory role was never advertised let alone appointed to. I made representations every week to middle and senor managers about the workload, the hours I and my social workers were working all to no avail. I was working 12 hour days at work, and evenings and weekends at home, in excess of 90 hours pw.
    I turned up to work even when sick eg flu like colds, it’s now called ‘presenteeism’ as I needed the job in that location for family reasons beyond my control. My two social workers were fantastic and between us we came up with ever more creative ways to try and manage the workload, some of which worked well and others less well but somehow everyone got a service and we kept things going. Eventually, the LA improved it’s rating and I was allowed to advertise and appoint to all my vacant substantive posts by which time my health had suffered to the extent that I eventually had to give up work completely as had the health of my two social workers who both took early retirement. Looking back, I ask myself why I continued to turn up to work everyday during that time. Partly because as I say, I needed the job in that location and also because I knew that if I was there I could at least partly protect my social workers who in turn could protect the children and families they worked with and also, because you don’t realise how much repeatedly banging your head against the same brick wall hurts until you stop. I am proud of what the three of us accomplished but at substantial personal cost to us all. By the way, we were never thanked for holding the service together and I am certain that had the HCPC been in existence at the time certainly I would have been referred to it as when I later took out a grievance against the same LA all the written representations I had made previously about workload, lack of staff and pressures etc were not in any of the files I requested including my personal copy of my supervision file!! I was off sick at the time so couldn’t collect it myself.
    It sadden me to say it but always cover your back: never take at face value what anyone, especially managers, tell you without getting it in writing; always, always have a paper/email trail; always keep copies of everything in your supervision file at home, securely stored; every couple of years ask to see your personnel file and check form cover to cover to ensure its contents an that nothing has been added or removed, I discovered I had been underpaid in a subsequent role for 2 years ; join a union for some protection, I would suggest the GMB not Unison as it seems the GMB is more likely to take on the LA …. I know I may sound paranoid but believe me, I am medically paranoid but I have learnt the hard way how these situations can arise and the fall out from them. To those of you still working for LAs I offer my congratulations for continuing to carry on the work in the face of what seems to be increasingly overwhelming adverse conditions.

  37. Ray December 17, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    Should have read ‘I am not medically paranoid’

  38. paul owen December 19, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    Let’s face it, social workers, senior pracs and CFW s work extra hours with little or no support from seniors. We do it because we care about the kids/adults we work with.

    I worked in a CP team for 15+ years, we had a survey on how many hours we worked to be given to senior managers, it worked out that my average was around 60 hours per week, sometimes 70. When I put this down I was told that my senior manager disagreed and that they only thought I did 45 (still over the agreed amount) and refused to submit the form. Interestingly the managers managed to leave the office at 5:00 most days and ‘work at home’ two days per week. I was told to take any amount over as TOIL, ha ha. Bad joke.

    Saying this I have had a couple of fantastic immediate line managers who have been supportive and worked damn hard too.

    I’m now in a Child Disability Team, has it improved? Grunt grunt, there go the flying pigs again

    We work for an organisation that does not care or support the workforce for successive governments both Conservative and Labour with little or no interest in making social care workable. I know it’s easy to blame the Conservative but let’s remember Brown and Blair!!

    I drive around 300 miles per week on the same rate as 10 years ago, due to wage freezes and 1% have averaged around £900 total increase before tax in 7 years, work in an office which has water running down the walls and have to ‘hot desk’. So many good social workers have left in the last year I don’t recognise most of the people in the office anymore. We’re 80% staffed by agency and newly qualified workers.

    HCPC should be disbanded. As should OFSTED! It would be nice if the unions showed any real interest in the way children’s SSD is ‘run’. Unfortunately where I’m from the main topic is how wonderful Jeremy Corbyn is and how education are struggling (without the huge cuts SSD have had to endure).

    I’m a couple of years from retirement, I would have liked to have carried on part time but to be honest I’m not sure if I’m going to last next month.

    • IAN Kemp December 20, 2016 at 9:47 am #

      Good luck in your retirement. You will not regret sad to say. As I said above your experience has been very similar to mine .. As I have said the organisation of social work is not fit for purpose.. No politicians bothered about social work.. It has no status. or indeed political power. Conservative and new Labour under Blair made things worse for social work Balls was a complete idiot who simply played to right media… I do however have memories of when social work did have some power and status. That was getting on for 40 years ago. Most of the present social workers have never experienced the more positive aspects of the job. The team was a team supported by a strong union. The local authority bureaucracy was under some form of control . I have very fund memories of those early days in what were big social work departments.. We controlled everything children’s homes old peoples homes support workers, carers . This was eventually undone by the Thatcher GOV ….She wanted to get rid of social work. She could not so she burecratised it

      • IAN Kemp December 20, 2016 at 10:09 am #

        To add to the above as I have said previously the ideal would be for social work to be separated from local authority. The present system is extremely costly and only delivers a minor service. . Manageralism is not the way forward .The way social work is organised in Norway Denmark Sweden Finland is much more focused and independent . It has a proper professional ethos rather than a controlling bureaucratic one that is UK social work. Unfortunately our great politicians and many of those in senior positions in social work / local gov are not really interested . Senior managers are very well paid. so the status quo is ok for them . Indeed these days many are not even social workers .
        The whole picture makes me sad when I think what could have been and what has happened to social work. It is like in many areas of our neoliberal world part of the corporate response to problems. Medicine has gone down the same path although with much greater status and power . It is the dehumanisation of the world that we have created. Only I fear radical political change would even begin to address these problems.. As it is the right wing press will dominate the narrative. Change is a long way off and I think things will only get a lot worse. The UK population are a pretty complacent bunch, not very socially aware. The readership of middle England is the Daily Mail…. So what hope is there for any form of change.?

  39. Donkey December 19, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

    I’m so furious at this, this could be anyone of us. If it is as community care report, instead of moaning I am going to propose a way forward.
    Firstly, I invite the social worker to contact Luke and I will support her.
    Secondly, if this is an injustice who is with me to raise funds for an appeal……. Its all well and good moaning but this social worker stands to lose her home and possibly more.
    Look forward to your response…….. I’m hoping community care will highlight the response to this.
    The reason I say and do this is because I know that community care are the true and only voice for social workers. We have BASW and a principal Social Worker both without a voice. Community Care is there every week!!!
    Soooo I await your response..

    • Jo December 21, 2016 at 7:56 am #

      I too am hoping that community care will listen to all the responses from both children’s and adult Social Workers that this has provoked, and that they will look at the wider responses that have been made and think about how it can truly support Social workers and act as a voice for all the comments made and for change.

      • Donkey December 21, 2016 at 10:47 pm #

        Jo thankyou, there are 60 messages here and you replied. How I see it is that the social worker, when she sees this will think maybe I’ll make contact because there’s no agenda.
        The only agenda will be highlighting the difficulty of our job and the IMPACT, Jo if you and community care are up for it lets move forward…. I guarantee positive IMPACT…….