Book Review: Death of a Social Worker by Sue Miller, Vanguard Press

Death of a Social Worker

Star rating: 3/5 

Sue Miller, Vanguard Press

ISBN 9781843864660

In this autobiography of her oftentough life, Sue Miller seeks to unmask the reality of frontline childcare practice. Although much of the book deals with her life before becoming a social worker, I found it a strangely unengaging read.

This may be because the author recounts her personal incidents with professional hindsight. After working with children and families in need of statutory intervention, her descriptions of bereavement, poverty and complex relationships in her own family are understated and lack some emotional content.

The book improves when anecdotes from her qualified practice are introduced. The reality of delivering in children’s services, notably the impact of workload and reorganisations on both preventive approaches and individual workers, is telling (not least in the context of the fallout of the Baby P case).

When describing the over-emphasis of the job on completing paperwork instead of spending time with families, there is far more emotion. With this being a recent experience the author remains understandably more angry than analytical.

Had links between her personal experience and professional practice been directly explored, this book could have contributed more to moving social work practice forward. Whether the author’s frontline experience has left her any energy to want to do that is sadly questionable.

Rob Fountain is a social worker involved in training and consultancy

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