Social work diary: ‘The worker has got emotionally involved with a service user’

An anonymous social worker reflects on work as a local authority designated officer – a role that involves investigating allegations against people who work with children

By an anonymous social worker


Another Ofsted inspection of our department is underway. Much anxiety pervades the offices and senior staff walk around in groups, as if for protection. Those of us lower down just have to get on with daily work tasks.

I am dealing with yet another case of an alleged assault on a pupil, this time by a head teacher. Much time and energy is spent in email correspondence with the police about whether they will attend the strategy meeting, even though they know it is required by procedure.


We’re supposed to be dealing with referrals about people who work with children but many calls are about matters of routine practice.

Today I take two of these, one from a nursery where I am told staff no longer give a child a comforting kiss if they have an accident. Another is from a care home telling me about how they dealt with a resident.

Both callers are fully convinced they had to tell our service and I give up trying to convince them that it’s unnecessary. It all creates lots of recording and adds to caseloads if more important work comes in and we have to leave these more trivial matters for another day.


The day starts with a strategy meeting about someone who works with young people. They have got emotionally involved with a service user and posted sexualised pictures of themselves on Facebook. The outcome at this stage is that police will interview the person and their employers will suspend them. I am tasked with investigating where else the person works.

I have long stopped wondering how people can so easily forget their inhibitions on Facebook, even if it means ruining their career for a moment’s weakness.


I take a referral from a school head. A teacher has angrily pushed a child over. We talk about how to deal with it and the teacher is left to contact human resources and get statements. The teacher’s been given time off. I begin arranging a strategy meeting; there will be much to do.

Part me wonders at what was going on in the teacher’s mind and how scary it must have been for the children. I have had to deal with the effects of much human frailty this week.

Want to read more social work diaries? Download our ‘Life on the social work frontline’ e-book – available now.  

More from Community Care

One Response to Social work diary: ‘The worker has got emotionally involved with a service user’

  1. Alan November 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    It seems teachers and social workers would benefit from the same sort of clinical supervision that counsellors have to use. It would help support the individual more than managerial supervision alone does.