By Winston Morson
Without question the details of this recent news story in the Mirror are a distressing read: a man employed in a position of trust violated this trust in the worst way imaginable, by raping a woman in his care. Under the circumstances, it could seem churlish to complain that the perpetrator, who was employed by the council as a support worker, was initially described in the news report as a social worker (the Mirror has since corrected its headline).But I do think the media should be more careful to make the distinction.
There are of course some parallels between social care and social work. The value base for both is focused on people’s rights and respect. As this news story highlights, anyone working in social care, qualified or not, can be placed in a position where they are working closely and unsupervised with someone who is vulnerable. It can be easy for this trust to be abused.
But there is a difference. I worked in social care for many years before becoming a social worker. When working in residential homes for young people or supervising a parent in their home, I felt subject to many of the same responsibilities and stresses I do today as a practitioner; however, now I feel more at the heart of decision making and this comes with the professional status of my current role.
The media must be disciplined in their fact-checking to ensure that the public are given accurate information – and social workers are not wrongly implicated.