Career clinic – Pauline Moignard

Q: I am a social worker with a local authority
children’s disability team. I love the direct work with children
and their families but that is a very small part of my job. I
estimate I spend an hour a day with service users. The rest of my
time is spent on paperwork and driving long distances to visit
children placed out of county. I am bored, disillusioned and unsure
how to proceed.

A: Consult your colleagues as these issues are
likely to affect the whole team. Suggest to your manager that
everyone keeps a log for a month or so to monitor time spent on
administration, duty, travelling and contact with service users.
This information can be used to assess the problem comprehensively.
A joint approach will establish whether responsibilities are evenly
distributed within the team.

The results, particularly for time spent travelling, might surprise
managers. If you can demonstrate how often you are on the road, you
could possibly influence the council’s placements policy or
contracting arrangements.

Your team manager might authorise train travel where suitable and
buying and using a team laptop, (subject to protecting
confidentiality), could mean you sort out admin during journeys and
make better use of travelling time.

Increasing regulation means administration has grown and while you
can’t avoid it, you can reduce the burden. Can record-keeping be
streamlined, or redesigned? Perhaps money can be found for admin
support? Or designated time and a quiet space could be allocated
for team members to update records without interruption.

Pauline Moignard is a freelance HR consultant specialising
in social care

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