Dispatches Social Worker Vicky Referred To The HCPC

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So, we have come to learn that ‘Vicky’, the social worker that went undercover in the recently aired Dispatches programme “Undercover: Inside Britain’s Children’s Services”, has been referred to the HCPC.

As many of us already know, ‘Vicky’s’ actions have caused a divide within the social work camp – with some reporting that she has done social work a “service”, whilst others argue that she has breached the HCPC Code of Conduct which underpins our social work practice. Specifically, respecting confidentiality with service users and being honest and trustworthy.

My view in relation to ‘Vicky’s’ actions is that they were not malicious in nature. Moreover, they were as a result of her desire or wanting to highlight the environment within which one section of social work is practiced – Children’s Services. Let us not lose sight here that work in Children’s Services is only one ‘spoke’ of a very complex wheel in which social work is practiced on a day to day basis.

Whatever your position, we must all accept that ‘Vicky’ was somewhat ‘hoodwinked’ by the Dispatches programme in how it would be edited and aired. Yes, ‘Vicky’ was naïve and yes, as a qualified social worker, I would have highlighted my concerns differently. However, as I have detailed in my earlier articles, social work practice in Children’s Services is a political hot potato. This combined with it being a very emotive subject often results in negative attention from the media, which further compounds public perception of social work more generally. Only those that are involved in the running of day to day Children’s Services fully appreciate its challenges and, despite public perception, has many many success stories and outcomes for some of society’s most vulnerable people.

As a caring profession, whereby we promote and advocate for those in need and are less fortunate, my view is that we should support ‘Vicky’ in her time of need. Let us use our core social work values to help ‘Vicky’ learn from her mistake. Only then, when we act in unity, will we truly give our profession the recognition and credit it fully deserves.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Social Work is more than just Children’s Services

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Last week I wrote a response, or my views, in relation to the Dispatches programme “Undercover: Inside Britain’s Children’s Services”. I highlighted the need for a review of Children’s Services but challenged the way in which the Government is going about implementing such changes from a top down approach that, and I remain of this view, does and will not work. My view is that this can be best achieved by seeking advice and guidance from those who work in front-line services on a daily basis. I believe this is the only (and right way) to make change for the better.

Firstly, let me make it clear here – I am not a journalist and I am not an academic. However, what I do possess is front-line experience and knowledge base as a social worker and practice manager within Children’s Services (Social Services & Youth Justice Services). I have been in this sector for over a decade. I have managed countless staff – from Probation Officers, Social Workers, Support Workers and Student Social Workers. Therefore, I believe that my views, are pretty close to those within practice.

However, today I am going to go out of my comfort zone and talk about Adult Services – the forgotten cousin of social work practice. The general public can almost be forgiven for thinking that social work is exclusively for Children’s Services. As we know, it does not!

My concern is this: Adult Services are significantly under resourced. They have been for the entirety of my professional career. Their budget is significantly less when compared to Children’s Services. The knock on effect of this – a very high threshold for service involvement and front-line staff being stretched too thinly to complete effective intervention delivery for those assessed as requiring support.

Surely everyone knows we are an ageing population – living for longer due to excellent health care provisions (although I am concerned for how long this will remain!) and an increased awareness and identification of emotional well-being and mental health issues in adults. As a social work profession, what-ever area of expertise or field you may be in, the only way we will promote change for the better, for Adults and Children, is if we stick together as one and not pockets of individual services. We must advocate and support each other – let us use our core social work values and beliefs, which work so well in supporting societies most vulnerable, to assist our profession. Let us utilise the techniques and skills we have been taught to protect another vulnerable member of society – the Social Worker, whether in Adult Services or Children’s Services![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Last night at 10pm, Channel 4 aired a Dispatches programme called “Undercover: Inside Britain’s Children’s Services”. As we already know, this involves a Children’s Service based in Birmingham. As I had predicted, we heard the major failings of this organisation and how fundamental changes are needed if we are to promote the safety and welfare of children and young people across England and Wales.

Now, I am the first person to recognise that a review is needed in terms of how we deliver Children’s Service. However, I remain of the view that it is being done for all the wrong reasons and from a top down approach that will not actually see any real changes for the better. As ever, Children’s Services (or Social Services) is a hot political potato and as such it has seen numerous changes in the decade I have been working in this sector.

However, if we are really serious about getting it right this time, my view can be best summarised by what Richard Branson once quoted: “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

Now – replace the word ‘customers’ with ‘service users’ or ‘societies most vulnerable’ and you start to get the picture that, yet again, the Government is going about changes to Children’s Service 1) for the wrong reasons and 2) the wrong way.

Surely, it’s common sense to know that in order to promote positive change in any service or business, we must first look after front-line staff. However, I do not just mean staff protection and development. Moreover, it involves them – those that are actively running Children’s Services this very moment (support workers, social workers, practice managers and team managers) – to be a part of the decision making forum. It is they that possess the knowledge of what it is actually like to work on the front-line in what is an extremely challenging job. Only they know what it is like to have three equally important section 47 enquiries to undertaken the same time, but having to make a decision in relation to prioritisation of work knowing that it is a person on the other end.

So, my message is this: for those that do not work in this sector, if you want positive changes to be made – do not go head hunting for front-line staff to be axed or sacked. Instead, seek advice and guidance from them because only they have an accurate picture and understanding of what can be done for the better. Because I can assure you that they are trying their upmost to deliver a service to the best of their ability!

Finally, to those that work in front-line Children’s Services, I have this message:

THANK YOU!

Thank you for turning up every day and working with some of societies most vulnerable.

Thank you for for going above and beyond the call of duty to help others or those less fortunate.

Thank you for being a part of a profession that I am proud of.

Thank you for the continued sacrifices you make on a daily basis – often at the cost of your own personal life.

Thank you for being truly inspirational.

Thank you for doing an amazing job.

You are the most resilient, caring and passionate people I have had the pleasure of working with!

Updated 27th May 2016[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]