Social work diary: ‘The manager names and shames anyone with late assessments’

A children's social worker reflects on a week where health issues dominate...


I visit a family whose child has global development delay. I enjoy these visits as the child and I play with his large toy car collection. The family have three large dogs, which I’ve christened the Hounds of the Baskervilles.

The father had a very disrupted, abusive childhood, which comes out in verbal aggression towards others. I’ve developed a relationship with him and built up trust. The care of the child has made remarkable progress. Today father tells me that when he was in the army he developed an allergy to the material the uniforms were made of, so had to be given a medical discharge.


It’s a school holiday, which makes life easier as you don’t have to wait till after school to see children. My first visit is to a family where mother has complex medical problems. It is often difficult to get a clear idea of how serious the illness really is. She tells me that she’s off work sick so much that she is giving it up and going to live on benefits.

I warn her that the benefit system won’t be sympathetic to her decision to leave work, but cannot interrupt her plans to make this mistake. The family risk eviction for rent arrears and it is going to get worse.


I make an urgent visit after a call from the ambulance service about a mother who was taken to hospital last night after severe epileptic fits. The flat was littered with empty alcohol cans and neighbours had to look after the family’s young child.

Numerous professionals and I have tried to work with this mother to help her understand her behaviour, but she talks as if she’s a spectator. I visit the child who recounts this episode as normal. She’s over active but fearful of the dark and animals. She has much to fear.

Despite a year on a child protection plan, no progress has been made.


A colleague tells me about their last team; every week there was a team meeting where managers named and shamed staff whose assessments were running late. It was a relief to get out of it.

I make a first visit to a family where there has been much domestic violence; mother doesn’t have contact with two children who live with dad. A new child will soon be born but mum and current partner say they’ve been misjudged. Father says he knows other families where abuse goes on, but Children’s Services won’t intervene.

When clients say this, I either ignore it or ask for details so it can be investigated. I decide to do the former and keep the second option in case he repeats himself.


Many staff are off on holiday this week. I’m on duty by myself as the co-duty worker is ill. Thankfully, it’s quiet. One way or another, this week has been dominated by health issues.

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