Are social workers given adequate support after traumatic events at work?

Following the death of two-year-old Bronson Battersby, we asked social workers whether the support in place for work-related trauma was adequate

Photo by Community Care

In January, a social worker discovered the bodies of two-year-old Bronson Battersby and his father, Kenneth, at their home, after making multiple attempts to reach them.

The heartbreaking and traumatic experience led to the practitioner, from Lincolnshire County Council, taking time off to recover.

Heather Sandy, director of children’s services at the authority, said the social worker was “incredibly upset” and the council was making sure she was getting all the support she needed.

“This was a devastating experience for those working with the family, and all have been given an opportunity to take time off.”

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The related article’s comment section also displayed an outpouring of support for the practitioner.

“I pray for the family concerned and for the social worker and her family as they navigate the extremely painful emotions following this awful tragedy,” said Bee.

“I’m certain all that could be done to support this family was done to the best of their ability and with only the best intentions towards the child and his parents.”

Support in place ‘not effective’

Bronson’s case calls to attention how frequently social workers encounter dangerous or distressing experiences at work – and raises the question of how well employers support them when they do.

Lincolnshire said it had ensured that the practitioner and colleagues who had worked with the family had “regular contact from managers, supervisors and colleagues” as well as access to a counselling service and trauma-informed support.


However, in response to a Community Care poll that drew 613 votes, the majority of practitioners (85%) said that support from employers following traumatic incidents was ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ effective.

Only 8% called the support ‘very effective’ and 7% ‘quite’.

How effective is the support in place at your workplace?

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2 Responses to Are social workers given adequate support after traumatic events at work?

  1. TiredSocialWorker February 2, 2024 at 2:04 pm #

    When a young person I was working with died (of illness) the first response I got was that the senior managers would be auditing the file.

  2. Sabine February 15, 2024 at 1:23 pm #

    When I was attacked at work the manager was concerned that he might not be finishing work dead on time. The support came from the WPC who came to the office listening to me and taking down my complaint. Further support cam from my union rep.