How can we end the blame game in social work?

Social workers give their top ten ways to avoid the blame game trap- and one more for luck

Social workers write their wish lists for improving the conditions they work in and ending the social work blame game:

1. Empowerment

Social workers need to feel able to speak up when things are unmanageable


2. Join it up

Share work and responsibilities among all relevant agencies

Joint decision making with the agencies involved with the family

3. Stop the in-fighting

Support your social work colleagues

social workers need to stop stabbing each other in the back

4. Own it

Seek team support, but take responsibility for your own actions too

everyone taking responsibility for their own actions

5. Empower others

Give service users more power

give service users more power

6. Have faith

Believe in what you do and you won’t buy into the blame game culture

believe in what you do

7. Set the record straight

Social workers should come out and challenge misconceptions

social workers need to come out and challenge media misconceptions

8. Help the public understand what you do

 Including your limitations

improve public knowledge of what we actually do

9. Communicate

better communication

10. Listen up

Hear social workers when they raise concerns, particularly about management or supervision

listening to social workers' views especially when there's complaints about management or supervision

11. Have enough staff to deliver

Make caseloads manageable



Do you agree with this wish list? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @CommunityCare 

More from Community Care

3 Responses to How can we end the blame game in social work?

  1. David S Hogan November 25, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Good list. However, the blame culture is systemic within social work and is central to the way the statutory role in child protection functions. The very nature of the role seeks to aportion blame and accountability in ensuring the safety of children through such risks as parental deficit and through a compliance model(itself modelled on the criminal justice system). Therefore, how can we eradicate the blame culture when it is so central to the ways in which we function? Blame and accountability permeates every aspect of our role, and to eradicate it would need a complete revamp from the tos of Westminster to the front line and a major shift in the ways in which we think and practice.

  2. Blair McPherson November 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    As a senior manager I was responsible for the communications team. The communications team complained that getting a good news story from a social work team was like getting blood out of a stone. Social work teams always seemed on the defensive, suspicious of the media and bruised by unfair characterisation of their profession. Whilst I understand this I do think the profession needs to be less reactive and more proactive when it comes to the media and this means giving the communication team the human intrest stores that illustration what we do. I also think senior managers and the adass should be more willing to challenge politicians and the media. And with out entering the blame game make clear how much of our work is multiagency so often the role of the police, NHS staff, schools and the courts is refered to in passing whilst the focus is on social services and the social worker.

  3. Chris Sterry November 27, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    Great 11 points outlining what social work is all about, but will it ever happen. Well not in the current climate, when the main focus is on managing the cuts, instead of doing the best for the clients.

    Social workers should be allowed to do the job they are employed for and their managers should listen to them and the message needs to be passed all the way up the line till it reaches the Government. For currently we are not all in it together, as the persons taking most of the cuts are those who can least afford to do so.