Social Work News - January to March 2019

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ÂŁ3.25 Social Work News Magazine

January - March 2019 issue


The spotlight on your profession



Chief Social Worker for a Day

Self-care for social workers

Loudmouth training

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were Lyn Romeo for a day?

Discover a new model of self-care which could protect you from the effects of burnout.

Find out more about the interactive training workshops which are educating social workers.

Social Work News

Contents January - March 2019 issue




Loudmouth training

This project looks at how digital music tuition can transform the lives of those living in challenging circumstances.

If you’ve witnessed one of Loudmouth’s innovative training sessions, you’ll know that they offer unforgettable training workshops.



Making the most of relationships

A day in the life of

Having grown up in the care system, Paul Yusef McCormack tells us what he learnt, and how social workers can improve communication.

Often the most popular article in the magazine, this issue we speak with Alin Nastase, a senior social worker in a First Response team.



Self-care for social workers

Have Your Say

Sass Boucher tells us more about a new model of Self-Care that she has developed, providing positive support for social workers.

You let us know your thoughts and opinions on a wide range of social work issues in our latest addition of Have Your Say.



Social Work Circle

Council Spotlight

Our regular columnist explores the issue of change and how social workers can cope with new teams, new structures and even new jobs.

We speak with Ann Domeney from Medway Council’s children’s services to discover what sets them apart from other employers.



Chief Social Worker for a day

Social Work Awards

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were Chief Social Worker for a day? Many of you shared your thoughts with us.

Headline sponsor of the Social Work Awards, Sanctuary Social Care, celebrate the success of all those involved in the profession.

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Social Work News


foreword Once again, we’re at the start of a brand-new year. We already know that 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the social work profession. With the introduction of the new regulator, Social Work England, we know that there will be plenty of changes afoot but what are we looking to achieve this year?

I’d like 2019 to be the year that we really start to celebrate and acknowledge social work to be the fantastic profession that it is. To do this, we need to start feeling proud of our contribution to those in need and take the time to reflect on the work that we’ve done. Too many social workers are feeling burnt out and demotivated – let’s change that. James Rook

Of course, the pressures that we’re working under will never change, but we can change the ways in which we react to these pressures. We only need to take small steps to make a difference to how we feel. So why not use 2019 as an opportunity to think about what you want to achieve this year. Perhaps set yourself a new career goal, sign up for that training course that you’ve been keen to attend or simply take the time to email your team to let them know how much you appreciate them.

Meet the team

Let’s use 2019 as the year that we regain our passion for social work! This issue, we’re delighted to see more of you than ever before getting involved. We always say that its YOUR magazine, and when we asked you to let us know what you would do if you

were the Chief Social Worker for a day, you answered in your droves! It’s clear that you’re all as keen as we are to raise the profile of social work and you can read what your peers had to say in our article on page 22. At Social Work News, we’re always keen to share examples of interesting social work practice and on page 06 you can read an exclusive insight into Connect:Resound, a pioneering digital music project which is helping to inspire and motivate those in challenging circumstances. We’ve also featured an interview with Loudmouth, an innovative training provider focusing on CSE and grooming. If you attended our recent event in Bristol then you’ll know how fantastic their training is, so this is an article not to be missed! You can read it on page 08. If you have any great examples of initiatives that you would like to see featured in a future issue of Social Work News, simply email us at

James Rook,

CEO, Sanctuary Social Care

Andrew Pirie,

Owen Dye,

“It’s incredible to see how many people are getting in touch with us because they want to be featured in the magazine. It’s really becoming a voice for the profession.”

“As the magazine continues to develop, we're always looking for new ways to visually communicate the content that’s important to you. This issue has seen the use of more illustration than ever before.”

Amy Dawson,

Chris Steward,

“I love being able to bring you examples of exciting initiatives which can be rolled out nationally. We want this magazine to be a resource to inspire and excite you.”

“It’s always fascinating talking to social workers for the work life article. Everyone has different backgrounds and approaches to social work, but their genuine passion is always a common factor.”

Marketing Director

Art Director

Contributing Editor


0333 7000 040 |

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Contributing Writer


0333 7000 040 |

News bites

News bites Key news stories and announcements.

New Mental Health Act to be implemented after review

Review commissioned to improve the lives of autistic children

The government has pledged to introduce a new Mental Health Bill after accepting recommendations from an independent review panel. The new legislation will allow patients to nominate a specific person to be responsible for their care (replacing the current nearest relative guidance) as well as allowing patients to make statutory advance choice documents, clearly detailing their wishes.

A new review into support and services for autistic people will inform a joint children’s and adults’ strategy which will be published this year.

Although specific details of the legislation will not be revealed just yet, it is thought that the Bill will be based around the following four principles; choice and autonomy, least restriction, therapeutic benefit and the person as an individual. We’ll bring you more news of the new legislation as details are announced. Stay tuned to a future issue of Social Work News to discover more.

For the first time ever, the review will look at children’s experiences with autism and will aim to join up health, care and education services. As well as exploring how autism diagnoses can be made earlier, the review will seek to improve the transition between children and adult services so that young people do not miss out. As part of the review process, the government will collect evidence from autistic children and adults, families, carers and professionals on how to improve services and support. Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “This pivotal review will help to find out how we can further our understanding of all forms of autism, improve how children and adults are supported and transform the life outcomes for people with autism.” We’ll bring you details of the new joint strategy when it’s revealed in the Autumn.

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News bites

DfE publish findings to help social workers improve educational outcomes for children The Department for Education has published its findings for how professionals can enable vulnerable people to benefit from a positive educational experience.

is nearly half that of other students. In addition, children in need of help and protection are three times more likely to have special educational needs (SEN), at least five times more likely to be excluded, and three times as likely to not be in education, employment or training after the age of 16.

The publication of the report details official guidance for how social workers can help improve attendance, behaviour and wellbeing, such as adjusting how they manage a vulnerable child’s behaviour and adapting how they speak to the child.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds says: “I hope this practical advice can help those leaders in schools and social care, alongside our hardworking teachers and social workers, understand how we can do to more to support these children. Together, we can help them have greater opportunities to fulfil their potential.”

New data shows that in 2016/17, one in ten state school pupils had a social worker within the last six years of their life, and GSCE attainment for these pupils

You can view the report at

Google pledge £600k to help tackle the issues of youth violence

Leading businesses committed to supporting care leavers

Google have announced that they will donate £600,000 to charities and community initiatives in a bid to tackle the growing issues of youth violence.

Large businesses including Amazon, Rolls Royce and Barclays Life Skills have pledged to support a new landmark scheme designed to support those leaving care.

The fund is backed by the London Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). The grant will enable charities such as Catch22 and Redthread train more than 500 social and youth workers, and other professionals to help at-risk young people manage their interactions and experiences with social media.

The new Care Leaver Covenant will offer work-based opportunities to young people leaving the care system. Designed to ease the transition into adulthood, the covenant pledges to provide access to work experience placements with some of the UK’s largest corporations as well as training workshops and life-skills courses.

This year there has been growing concern that music videos which are hosted on YouTube (and owned by Google) and social media platforms are glamorising violent crimes such as drug dealing and murder.

Children’s and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi wants the scheme to create more than 10,000 job opportunities for young people over the next ten years.

Beth Murray, Director of Engagement, Catch22 says: “Negative activity on social media is a symptom, rather than a cause, of youth violence… The training will help frontline workers to understand fully how young people are using social media.”

Speaking of the scheme she says: “Working with businesses, charities and every government department, our new Covenant will improve the offer we make to these young people, through work placements, skills training or access to university so that they can fulfil their potential and flourish as adults.”

Share your news! Simply email if you have a story you wish to share with us. Social Work News - 05


Using music to connect with hard-to-reach groups across the UK We discover what impact a digital musical education project is having upon hard-to-reach groups and how social workers can get involved in similar projects across the UK.

What is Connect:Resound? Connect: Resound is a pioneering digital music education project - it enables young people to receive instrumental tuition online, in real time, from a local teacher. It began life exploring ways of delivering music tuition to children living in rural areas where travel and time costs make it challenging for Music Education Hubs to reach as many pupils as they would like. Youth music charity NYMAZ has now led trials across the country, from Cumbria to Cornwall, and identified a high quality but costeffective model of offering real-time virtual lessons. There is real potential for using this method to engage children in other challenging circumstances. We are currently investigating how the model can support those with mental health issues, Looked-After Children, young refugees as well as those not in Education, Employment or Training.

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Why is it so important for children and young people to have access to musical tuition? We know that music has the power to change lives: it can enable personal and social development, raise aspirations and enhance career prospects. It is also a fun and creative form of stress-relief!

You’ve done a lot of work to support young children with mental health issues. How has this project supported them? Some participants have difficulty accessing mainstream provision because of issues like social anxiety, attachment disorders or agoraphobia. Online tuition gives them access to musical opportunities even if they are not regularly attending school or feel uncomfortable with group activities or face-to-face interactions. The sessions can build confidence and connections, as well as helping ease young people back into mainstream provision, if and when this is appropriate.

Connect: Resound is supporting Music Education Hubs to work with social workers and other local partners to create new pathways to participation in music for young people who may find it harder to access the existing provision.

What can social workers learn from this project and how can they get involved in future initiatives? Creativity and music are an essential part of any child’s life and education, but it can be more challenging to ensure that the most vulnerable young people have equal access to the arts. We are working in partnership, building links between virtual schools, social services, prevention services and Music Education Hubs, to create more music opportunities using digital technology. We have funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Education and Learning Through the Arts: More and Better Fund, along with Music for All, to work with more Music Education Hubs and to continue

"It can be more challenging to ensure that the most vulnerable young people have equal access to the arts" In Surrey, you recently trialled this project to enable vulnerable groups (such as young refugees, unaccompanied asylum seeking children and those in foster care) to gain access to musical tuition online. What was the impact of this project?

CASE STUDY What was the project? A pilot project that tested a series of blended face-to-face and digital distance learning music workshops and lessons with a range of young people across Surrey. 82 remote lessons to 27 young people were delivered in saxophone, piano, violin, voice, guitar, drums, music technology and production.

Why did you target those in foster care, young refugees and Unaccompanied AsylumSeeking Children? (UASC) One of the project aims was to reach young people that weren’t accessing Surrey Arts’ existing offer through digital distance learning. It enabled us to build working relationships with those working to support these young people (i.e. foster carers and tutors), and to understand barriers to engagement.

What was the impact of the project amongst these groups? All participants were able to try learning a musical instrument – and the majority want to continue with lessons. Students felt that music helped them to express their feelings, and to feel happy. Because this project happened through a medium (digital) that young people were comfortable and familiar with and could happen in their home or school/college environment without them having to go to a ‘new’ space it removed psychological barriers to participation. The digital element also placed a natural distance between tutors and students, which for some of the young people felt safer and more comfortable than face-to-face interaction. Finally, the project increased digital literacy and skills whilst also familiarizing young people with the safe, positive use of technology and online learning.

It gave the young participants a chance to enjoy a music learning experience that they otherwise would not have had. We observed musical progress and lots of independent learning, as well as an enhancement of communication and language skills. Levels of engagement and focus were particularly high - to the extent that the tutor at the Further Education college was overwhelmed by the concentration displayed by some of their most challenging students.

How can digital learning and initiatives such as this be used by social workers to engage with hard-to-reach groups? This technology goes beyond school boundaries. It can be used to engage hard-to-reach groups in their own environment or at a place where they feel comfortable, for example at home, at a youth centre, through virtual schools programmes, or in Pupil Referral Units. It provides a focus for young people, helping them build confidence and new skills.

exploring new applications for this technology. If you are interested, start discussions with your local Music Education Hub and keep up to date by joining (free of charge) the NYMAZ Remote Music Learning Network at where we will announce opportunities to get involved.

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Find out more: If you would like to find out how you can get involved in the Connect: Resound initiative, visit or phone 01904 543 382. Alternatively, email

The interactive training providers taking the social work profession by storm Social workers in attendance at Sanctuary’s CSE training workshop in Bristol were treated to a phenomenal training workshop courtesy of interactive training provider, Loudmouth. We speak exclusively with Chris Cowen, Director of Loudmouth, to discover what sets their training apart from other providers and why they use dramatic performances to underpin their training seminars.

How did Loudmouth’s training develop? Loudmouth was set up in 1994 by me and Eleanor Vale and we’re both proud to still be the Company Directors. We first met as students at the University of Kent and we were interested to learn how drama could be used as a teaching or community tool. Since setting up Loudmouth, the majority of our work is delivered to children and young people although there has always been a training element for professionals. These training sessions usually involve using drama to raise awareness of issues and / or passing on techniques for engaging young people around the issues. Chris Cowen

What made you decide to use dramatic performances within your training? We find that using drama helps trainees to quickly gain awareness and insights into the issues covered; build empathy for those affected and engage with the human or emotional aspects.

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What social workers have to say about Loudmouth: “The training was incredible; it really helped me to be in the voice of the young person and understand what they are going through. It also brought to life how incredibly quickly grooming can escalate.” Nancy, Operational Manager, CAMHS team “The training was completely on-point. It really made you think that you were in the room with that child. It was absolutely spot on.” Karin, Family Court Advisor, CAFCASS “It was absolutely brilliant, really realistic. It was so hardhitting, and although it reiterated what I already knew, it was thought-provoking because it showed how easy it can be done. The question now is, how can we deal with this?” Joanne, Social Care Practitioner

Loudmouth training

We do a lot of research before we develop any of our education or training programmes. The drama, discussions and exercises that follow aim to give a more realistic experience and understanding of the broader issues that can be hard to do in a written report or case study. Our training usually includes elements where the professionals talk to the characters from the drama and so there is an opportunity for our Actor / Facilitators to respond in role passing on the research in an engaging and authentic way. This can be important in giving the voice of the victim and that children and young people’s views on issues and services are heard.

In your “Working for Marcus” training workshop, your actors can really get into the mindset of a young person being groomed; how difficult is it for them to get into that character? We cover a lot of issues including child sexual exploitation and grooming. Our Actor / Facilitators are permanent members of staff and are recruited for having an interest in the issues, a good temperament for training around sensitive issues as well as having the acting and facilitation skills. There is a lot of work during rehearsals to build up an understanding of the characters that they will be playing, lots of research and reading of case studies and discussions on the issues covered. Sometimes it can be challenging to get into and out of a character especially if you are delivering sessions where you don’t feel that the audience or group related to or empathised with the character as much as you

"We believe that education around these issues is crucial for young people to ensure that they are safe" hoped. To support with this our Actor / Facilitators always work in teams of two and debrief after sessions and have support structures in place. Our Actor / Facilitators are used to coming in and out of character as they have been working around the issues for a long time, however it's important that they have support if they find it difficult.

How much research is done to ensure the training is accurate? Each new programme goes through months of research with a review of available material, data or reports. We work closely with key organisations who are experts in the field to ensure that the accuracy of any stats or current legislation is correct and that the messages in the training are in line with best practice. We do as much work as we can to get first person accounts so that the situations and characters reflect real experiences. This can be interviews with survivors of abuse, with professionals who work closely with survivors, blogs or non-fiction accounts.

What other training do you have available for social work professionals? We currently offer work on CSE awareness as well as another training on interactive techniques to engage young people around Health and Relationships and Sex Education. The company specialises in relationships and safeguarding education.

You regularly work with schools and colleges to support Can you carry out any bespoke children and young people. How training if required? important is it that we educate We can develop bespoke training and are always our children on issues such interested in new opportunities. Due to the as CSE, grooming, domestic approach we take there are obviously development violence, drugs and alcohol etc? costs to ensure the research and messages are We believe that education around these issues is crucial for young people to ensure that they are safe. We also believe that it is important to look not just about what is being taught but how. We do a lot of work to make sure that our drama, workshops and supporting materials are age appropriate, provide space for young people to discuss and explore attitudes and values, as well as learn information and statistics in a safe, relaxed and open atmosphere. Our evaluation shows big increases in knowledge of services as well as young people stating that as a result of the sessions they would act differently and found it useful to learn through the drama.

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right. We also have 10 different theatre in education programmes aimed at different ages of children and young people and so there are sometimes options for us to use the drama from these in a training programme if required.

Find out more: To find out more about Loudmouth’s range of training workshops, visit, phone 0121 446 4880 or email

“All children need is someone to believe them and believe in them, LET IT BE YOU” Paul ‘Yusuf ’ McCormack is involved in the Care Experience Conference 2019. Here, he tells us exclusively what he learnt growing up in care and gives his advice for how social workers can connect with children effectively.

A little bit about me may be useful so that you get a sense of who I am, why I'm talking to you and hopefully giving you some insight that may help as you continue your journey into social work. I was born in the 60's; a product of an illicit affair between my Irish mother and 'exotic' eastern father, when society wasn't so accepting of illegitimacy or children of colour. I, along with thousands of others, was left to languish in the care system. If someone had told me that when I grew up, I'd be collaborating with social workers, I'd have laughed, maybe offered an expletive! ...And told them to “jog on”. Certainly not based on my childhood experiences. The only 'contact' would have been the stones I launched. How times have changed, in fact a 360-degree turn around and I'm fortunate to have met some inspiring individuals who work in this profession and who passionately care.

Growing up in the care system As a child, besides throwing stones, I mainly recall that social workers knew everything about me, even though I knew very little. It felt very one sided. The social worker arrived, file in hand (sometimes being 'hugged') and I would be asked a series of questions as they scribbled away, rarely looking at me. It felt as if I was some part of an exhibit where people came to view, prod, ask what they like, inspect me and then walk away with no feedback. In fact, my 'files' state “There is a sadness on his face, he looks unhappy. He refuses to speak on a personal level, he sits and refuses to look at me”. All I understood and felt was the person in front of me didn't really care. I believed I didn't matter; I never knew which social worker would turn up until they arrived, that privileged information was on a need to know basis, just not mine! Besides their

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names, I knew very little if anything about them, they never personalised my experience, yet I was expected to talk about me and how I feel etc. How does that one work? Kids are smart, they can read situations and people. Don't be fooled by their size, we get it when someone feels genuine! Hopefully you'll have picked out the references to how it made me 'feel', it's a key element of relationships and children, regardless of age need to know their feelings will be heard and respected. So fast forward to today, do I see improvement in the way relationships are developed both with children and the people who are caring for them? I think 'could do better' would be a fair comment overall; however, I'm aware of some exceptional individuals who go that extra step, who forge personal relationships and only wish these individuals had been part of my life.

Care leaver

Making the most of relationships Here's a few things I'd have wanted from my social worker when I was a child that I believe are still relevant today. • I'd like to know some thing’s about you, what you like, fun things, not the standard, rank, name & number. • I want you to play with me, especially games I like, allow me to be in charge, making the decisions or rules. It makes me think your listening to me & I might believe that you genuinely want to be with me!

I'm reminded that I was once asked by my social worker, “What would you like most?” I didn't ask for anything grand or big. I asked, “If I could be allowed to be a bit happy, maybe to be told something good about me sometimes.” Quite small, not big asks, but it tells you that it's the little things that meant more to me as a child...and that's my ask; please use what you read, as a tool, to enable you to make those small changes that mean you become the difference. Finally, I want you to know that I look back, and I recall the amazing talented kids who I grew up with. Hard kids, tough kids, smart kids, some who have gone on to do brilliant stuff. A generation, not of “lost children”, instead, these were children of potential, fuelled and filled with possibilities and so much passion...and all they needed was someone to believe them and believe in them, LET IT BE YOU.

• When you talk about me or my family/background, say something nice. I already feel bad that I can't live with them, otherwise I may continue to worry about what I'd done. • Never be afraid to acknowledge how I may feel. It's important for me to feel that you really care. • Don't promise what you can't deliver otherwise I'll stop believing you and won't engage. • Stop visiting me in school, you make me feel different to others. Arrange to see me in a “normal” setting. • Ask my permission to read my file when you meet me for the first time. I might also have questions. It'll make me feel you respect me, I may even begin to start trusting you! • Don't be afraid to explain why I'm in care. I can understand far more than you think. Not knowing eats away inside me. • I don't want to see you 'scribbling' when you're supposed to be seeing me, if you must, explain why and what you’re doing. And let me read it and agree it, so that I understand. Don't forget when I'm big, I may read my file, let it reflect the truth. • Only use words that you would use for your own family. Professional jargon tells me I'm less than others. I'm a child and want to be the same as all my friends really! Don't make me feel different. I'm not a service user, a placement or other. I'm a child and I never chose to be here. • Never forget to say goodbye in person, I need to know I mattered to you, I've already lost enough people in my life who just disappeared, don't be another. I don't want to believe I was responsible in anyway.

"Please use what you read, as a tool, to enable you to make those small changes that mean you become the difference" Social Work News - 11

Work Life

Work Life

A day in the life of a senior social worker Originally from Romania, Alin Nastase is a senior social worker in a First Response team, which handles 'front door' assessment and intervention for children and families.

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Work Life

My journey into social work

My proudest moments

I qualified as a social worker in Romania in 2002 and completed a master's degree in 2004. Having worked in one of the districts Bucharest for two years, I was then appointed Secretary of the Child Protection Committee and, five years later, became Deputy Manager of Social Services for the same area. Romania's social care system is very different from that in the UK, being less well developed and having fewer community resources available. However, much of what I learnt at university was influenced by UK practice and I also had opportunities to engage with visiting groups from the UK. This inspired me to consider relocating here. I was also attracted by the idea of working directly with families again and making a real difference to people's lives. I talked it over with my family and we made the move in 2011.

As a children and families social worker, you always feel most proud when all your efforts have paid off and you've made a big difference to the life chances of a child or young person. It's those successes that motivate us and make social work such as rewarding career. I can't go into specific detail, but there is one case of which I'm particularly proud. I feel that I really helped to turn around this young person's life and achieve a positive outcome for them.

My typical day As a frontline team, we're the first point of contact with children and their families. Therefore, we're mostly dealing with referrals and making key decisions about the level of support required. Of course, in managing my caseload I have to take into account the family dynamics in each case and that means having a certain amount of flexibility in my schedule. In some cases, where there are potentially serious safeguarding issues, there may be a need to respond very quickly to find out more information and perhaps make a home visit right away.

Lessons I've learnt It doesn't matter whether you're working in Romania, the UK or Switzerland, in this job you can learn something new every day. That's why I believe it's important to 'listen actively'. The social context of our work is evolving and we're facing new challenges all the time, as well as continually developing and adapting our knowledge and skills. For example, we're increasingly dealing with complex issues relating to gender identity. As you come into contact with new situations and experiences, you learn more.

The most challenging part I've worked in several different local authorities and, in general, the main challenges I've faced have been similar in all them. Of course, some London boroughs have a particular problem with increased youth crime, mainly related to drug dealing and gang culture, but I don't think that issue is necessarily confined to the capital.

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Like many other public service professionals, social workers are facing the challenge of working with reduced budgets and resources. That's why it's so important to have a team around you who can think imaginatively and find new, more efficient ways of delivering the highest quality care. I've only been working in my current role for a short time, but the experience has been positive. I get the feeling that most of the local professionals are extremely proactive and collaborate productively, not just in children's social services, but also in schools and other agencies.

After work Social work is a tough job and it's important to find time to relax and recharge. First and foremost, I like spending time with my wife and our teenage son. As for hobbies, since I moved to the UK I've taken up oil painting, which I find very relaxing and therapeutic. (Living in Kent, I get plenty of inspiration from the beautiful countryside on my doorstep.) I also make scaled-down buildings for model railways. The commercial suppliers tend to stick to certain standard designs, so I decided to offer some different options, for example oil terminals and industrial units. Having developed my skills by joining a local club, I'm now quite proficient, working with a variety of materials, including plastic resin, wood and foamboard. I started out just making a few buildings for my own pleasure, but now I get quite a lot of requests from model railway enthusiasts. There are many more in the UK than there are in Romania!

Self-care psychology

Learning to take care of ourselves

Social work isn’t an easy profession; with budget cuts, stressful situations and growing numbers of caseloads, it’s never been more important for practitioners to take the time to look after themselves effectively. Sass Boucher tells us more about a new model of Self-Care that she has developed, which is effective in providing positive support for social workers.

What is professional trauma / fatigue and why is it so relevant to social workers? Professional Trauma and Fatigue is a way to collectively talk about stress, burnout, compassion fatigue, vicarious and secondary trauma.

Sass Boucher

They are all different concepts but can all contribute to eroding our wellbeing when we are working with others, regularly listening to stories of distress and trauma. This is obviously very relevant to social workers who are spending their working days listening to human pain in many ways.

Social worker burnout is a real issue for the profession. How can we spot the signs of stress amongst colleagues? It is very real, and it is interesting because it is generally those around us that spot something has changed as opposed to noticing it ourselves. Of course, there are very real physical symptoms associated with professional trauma and fatigue, in addition to emotional signs; however, these symptoms can be very different from person to person. One of us may become very quiet and isolate ourselves, whereas another of us may become verbally agitated and angry quickly.

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It is about learning to recognise our own coping strategies and those who we work with. Knowing ourselves, and knowing our peers is so important in spotting changes in behaviour that maybe signs of professional trauma and fatigue. However, it is imperative that I caveat this with an awareness of physical health issues that it would be sensible to take to a GP in order to rule out any physical health conditions. A lot of the symptoms overlap, palpitations, headaches, upset stomachs to name a few, these could all be important to get checked out - if in doubt, rule this out!

You’ve developed your own practice model based upon your “five pillars of protection”. Can you tell us what this is about? My research, although small in scale drew out some concrete themes, these have been validated through further research and training with one of my colleagues and co-founders Kate. The five pillars of Awareness, Supervision, Peer Support, Trauma Informed and Self-Care. We believe these five pillars protect against Professional Trauma and Fatigue. We don’t have space to go into them too deeply here, however what is important is to understand the control we have as individuals to influence and build these pillars, and how they can feed into each other.

Self-care psychology

have lunch hours, most social workers we train don’t take time to eat. Basic human needs of refuelling and going to the loo really shouldn’t be a luxury. At the end of every training session we deliver, we ask for feedback, and there are two relevant comments here that are generally repeated after every session. ‘We should have been taught this years ago’ and ‘Managers need this training, they need to buy into the concept.’

How can managers lead by example and ensure that their teams are paying enough attention to self-care? Managers can and should be a self-care role model, showing them how it’s done, encouraging the culture as a part of model supporting their teams throughout the day. Yes, there are impossible targets, yes there are immensely complex and traumatic cases, but encouraging social workers to remember why they chose to become a social worker can be valid and strengthen motivation. The motivation of social workers is generally not money or 9-5 hours. They know that they are going to be entering a tough job, but they still do, with energy and passion. It is simply unacceptable that we are losing talented, highly trained and phenomenally committed practitioners because we are not encouraging them to look after themselves and each other.

"We need to create a culture where it is ok to take care of ourselves and encourage others to do so" For example, we may not feel therapeutically supported in supervision that it is based purely on caseload, but we are able to influence what we take to supervision, so make the best of it. Then, if you are feeling unsupported look at your peer support or your self-care to see if you can ramp those pillars up.

You believe self-care should be taught as part of ongoing training, why do you think it’s not covered in enough depth? For me it is very simple, if we do not look after ourselves and each other we will break. I do believe it is being brought to the forefront a little more than it was. I deliver sessions to ASYE’s and this is excellent, if we can create awareness early on then we have a chance of professional self-care becoming part of our practice. I am also hearing a little more that professional self-care is being brought to social work students at

universities, but it is generally an acknowledgment that we need to look after ourselves. I believe we need to teach around professional trauma and fatigue and encourage self-awareness alongside the concepts and theories. Professional Trauma and Fatigue is real, very simply if we aren’t aware of it, we are unable to proactively mitigate against it.

Should self-care become an important part of our CPD activities? I believe it is essential! We need to create a culture where it is ok to take care of ourselves and encourage others to do so. The team environment is perfect for this! If you see a colleague rocking on her seat because she needs the loo, tell them to go! If we spent just ten minutes out of our professional day actively doing something to make us smile, how priceless is that? We used to

Social Work News - 15

You offer a wide range of training courses to help practitioners look after themselves effectively – why is training in this area so important? As I mentioned before, awareness is key, therefore training is an essential part of moving forward to nurture and strengthen ourselves, our teams and our managers. The training alone says, ‘I matter’ "I matter enough to spend half a day or a day on working out how to look after me." We know professional self-care isn’t rocket science, but we also know that not many of us prioritise it. We belong to a sector that by its very nature prioritises caring for others, and it’s not necessarily putting ourselves first, but it is caring for ourselves as well as others. If we don’t, we’ll break: ‘I’m fine’ is not enough to keep us afloat. We have a website, which in addition to showing you about our model and theory, hosts a blog, so any budding bloggers out there do get in touch. It’s your voices and experience that really matter!

Want to find out more? To learn more about the Five Pillars of Protection, or find out more information about Sass’ training workshops, please visit or email

Have your say In our regular feature, you share your opinions on how to recognise the signs of disguised compliance, how to make the most out of reflective supervision and how IT systems could be improved.

How do you recognise the signs of disguised compliance amongst families? “Parents who fail to engage with professionals. Parents who repeatedly cancel and reschedule appointments. Parents insisting on pre-arranged visits for instance to clean the house or put things in order.” Sheradean, Ashford “Their answers would be quick because they had been rehearsed and answers would be either very similar or exact. Those being questioned might also seem ill at ease especially if they are being questioned on a 1 to 1 basis.” Stewart, Dundee “Establish facts, gather evidence, challenge parents’ behaviours and assertions. Focus on the child’s views, not professional outcomes. I would challenge parents and child’s view of non-engagement of services. Record an historical and up-to-date chronology. I would identify outcomes with the family. I would use professional supervision to challenge my own beliefs.” Eileen, Birmingham

“I expect it. I speak to children regularly and I work on evidence-based practice rather than defensive practice. I would like more community police who hear and see things when offices are closed. I would use the Mc Masters Family meetings weekly to get to the core of the family’s real activities.” Marion, Fife

What should be done to make the most out of reflective supervision sessions?

“There are usually indicators identified through discussion with all formal and informal staff involved with the family which indicate inconsistencies.” Cynthia, Newcastle

“To support managers to understand what reflective practice is, and how to implement it into everyday practice, using the work of Schon, for example. It's about before, in and on action and how we turn into the self to maximise what we observe, experiences, feel, think, view and form opinions.” Miranda, Birmingham

“Make plans smart so one can measure progress and change as a pose to a family just talking about it. Assess what changes are happening for children.” Cheryl, Herts

“Reflective supervision can be personal or a wider learning tool - and could ultimately help the whole service. This can be shared in meetings, and anonymised if necessary.” Audrey, Halton

“When they are incapable of making the necessary changes needed to work with professionals and do the minimum required rather than make the most of the opportunity of working open and honestly with professionals.” Amy, Southend-on-Sea “Missing appointments, elder family members seem to be constructive but are really covertly destructive.” Chris, Stockport

Social Work News - 16

Have your say

“Ensure that both supervisors and supervisees have training in reflective practice.” Henrietta, Nigeria “Offering proper opportunities for social workers to reflect with their managers, but also with their peers. Reflective group supervision is exceptionally valuable.” Natalie, Berkshire “Ensure that there is separate case supervision and reflective supervision so social workers are clear on the difference and can use the space appropriately rather than monitoring statistics.” Amy, Southend-on-Sea “The model of reflective practice is not an issue. It’s relevant, practical and a very inclusive model. But only if used effectively, timely with space given to unpick issues and work to place learning into day to day practice.” Chris, Stockport “Ask social workers to limit case discussion to essential and most pressing details. Unnecessary to elaborate on minor details. Document supervision session in the same way; encourage social worker to discuss emotions and to critically analyse them.” Laura, Leicestershire “Stop supervision being rushed or cancelled and don't make the use of theory in supervision as uncommon as it currently is. Supervision is not about how many times the family have been visited but what was the quality of the practice, training needs of both worker and manager and how have the family responded to the intervention. If there is no change, then the plan needs to change.” Marion, Fife “Advance preparation for each session from the part of the social work practitioner, centring on HOW he/she would do something different to improve their practice.” Anonymous, Scotland “Discussing each case and reflecting on actions back to the supervisee. Clear notes from the meeting which are signed by both parties once they have been prepared and read after the supervision.” Sarah, Chiswick “It should be well planned, not rushed, strength based, so balanced with 'strengths' and ‘needs' improving. A chance to check wellbeing. Realistic expectations and to have concerns or worries listened too.” Joanne, Bristol

How could IT systems be improved to make reporting easier and more efficient? “Not have such ridged boxes - unfortunately people often behave outside the available option boxes.” Jane, Surrey “Pulling data through onto multiple forms. Being more simplistic. Having all information stored on a single database. Being able to see the work that the early help workers have completed.” Natalie, Berkshire “System we have is to complex and repetitive not fit for the purpose. The IT system needs to be designed in consultation with frontline staff who are using it every day.” Swinder, Bedfordshire

“Being able to access the computer system and assessment forms when on the go would allow staff to complete assessment forms during visits rather than write on paper only to then type it up again when in the office.” Laura, Leicestershire “To actually save work automatically, to be more secure i.e. so files cannot get lost or easily deleted, easy to navigate, learning difficult / disability friendly, to not be able to send incomplete files, to have section templates e.g. headers that you can fill out yourself, such as the 5 outcomes or any other format the organisation uses for recording.” Katie, Croydon

“Less processes on internal systems to make things quicker. More smart tools available to record information directly after visits or meetings to be more efficient.” Afshan, London “There simply should be one IT system in the UK to report on for children and families that way children will not become lost and less abuse will happen as children will be seen better and clearer.” Jemma, West Midlands “Hand held portable devices to complete and upload assessments in real time.” Derek, Aberdeenshire

"Establish facts, gather evidence, challenge parents’ behaviours and assertions. Focus on the child’s views, not professional outcomes" Social Work News - 17

Social Work Circle

Coping with change This issue, our social worker explores the issue of constant change and how social workers can cope with new management teams, new structures and even new jobs. Given the nature of social work and the situations we experience, we often crave stability and routine. Simple things comfort us, like our own desk (if we’re lucky), consistent staffing levels, familiar faces and knowing who to call when the photocopier breaks. As organisational change continues, whether in local authorities or the NHS or in the private sector, and purse strings are pulled ever tighter, change has become the norm. If it isn’t already afoot, there is usually a plan for restructuring, or reconfiguring or perhaps transformation somewhere on the horizon. These can be on a large scale or on a micro level, like a change of office, a new manager or an amended policy about a key aspect of our role. Whatever the scale and type of change, people often feel threatened and anxious about their job security and their own well-being. I’d hazard a guess that many of us have experienced going in to work at the start of the week to be told about a new system, an up-dated policy or equipment that no-one recalls asking for. I remember one Monday finding my old but serviceable

We know as professionals that change is scary. As a qualified social worker for some years, I thought I would have become used to frequent change. I have learned to be better at seeking reassurance, support and advice. From talking to my peers, I know that this can be important in helping to manage change. That’s not to say I no longer find the unknown a stressful place to be. Who doesn’t? I often ask myself how I can manage these seemingly constant changes more effectively. As an agency social worker, I can move job every few months. Initially I found this very tough. A few years on, being the new girl is easier, but it can still feel difficult. I try to focus on the positives. I have become better at ensuring I have stability, routine and support outside work. I accept that there will always be change and, even more importantly, that it is sometimes for the better. Even the cynic in me can recognise that some development in essential in our role, as it is in other professions. It’s the way it is communicated that can cause feelings of disempowerment, and sometimes, helplessness.

"I often ask myself how I can manage these seemingly constant changes more effectively" analogue phone literally being ripped out of the wall to be replaced by a skype phone. Which was acceptable, except that if the computers went down (not an infrequent thing) you couldn’t call anyone to report it. Nor could you contact any clients or patients. Changes in management structure often mean a change of office culture. People you might have turned to for informal support disappear. Things get more tricky when social workers have to manage and absorb these organisational changes alongside a caseload. Juggling a complex case, or supporting a client undergoing their own changes in life whilst trying to work out what the new policy or practice is can be especially fraught.

Would more effective, and timely, communication improve the problem? Or is it time social workers learnt to be more resilient in an ever-changing workplace. What do you think?

Join our Social Work Circle and become a guest contributor. Do you have a passion for writing? If so, we want to hear from you! We’re always looking for new contributors to write guest articles for our Social Work Circle. If this sounds interesting to you, please send an email to

Social Work News - 18

Council Spotlight

Council Spotlight This issue, we speak with Ann Domeney from Medway Council’s children’s services to discover what sets them apart from other social work employers.

Can you tell us what makes How are you ensuring that Medway Children’s Services social work practice for different from other employers? children and families is continuing to improve? At Medway we have streamlined the journey for the child by creating small supportive ‘pod’ teams. We offer a comprehensive training and development programme throughout the year and a career progression scheme that promotes development and progression across all levels. We have also made a significant investment in technology for all our social workers by providing them with a surface pro and mobile phone to enable flexible working across their geographical area.

Can you tell us anything more about these supportive pods?

We have created four Advanced Practitioners at Medway to provide high quality coaching, mentoring and guidance, as well as delivering practice focused sessions throughout the year to support social workers with their Continued Professional Development. We have formed a partnership with the Centre for Systemic Social Work to provide comprehensive and accredited systemic training to support our social workers achieve the best experience of relationshipbased social work for our children and families.

We have established small area-based social work teams, known as pods, each with one practice manager and four social workers. Our pods work with children and families, following assessment, throughout their engagement with statutory social work. This means social workers have a variety of cases from Children in Need, Child Protection, court work and Looked-After children. Pod working has enabled social workers to develop good working relationships, where they feel supported by each other and their Practice Manager. This has also led to social workers having a good awareness of cases across the pod which means, a child could be supported by more than one social worker in the event the allocated worker is not available. Children and families can be reassured that they are supported by a social worker, within a ‘pod’ rather than, only their individual social worker.

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Supervision is key to good social work practice. What can social workers expect from Medway? Social workers receive reflective group supervision which enables the whole team to come together and discuss their cases using the ‘strengthening families’ approach. This enables each social worker to become familiar with all the cases held within the pod. The model promotes a collaborative approach and helps create a positive and supportive work culture where social workers benefit from each other’s skills and experience. In addition, staff receive individual monthly supervision, where they will have the opportunity to discuss caseload and receive guidance and support.

Council Spotlight

What are your average caseloads and how do you ensure they're manageable? Our average caseloads are 18 in the Safeguarding Area Teams and approximately 20 in the assessment service. We are committed to keeping caseloads low. We have also assigned one Advanced Practitioner to each of our four geographical areas to provide expert support and coaching to social workers working with complex cases.

How are you helping social workers to develop their skills and progress their careers? Every social worker has a personal development plan which is specific to their needs. Our career progression scheme provides a mechanism for social workers to be assessed against the Council’s career progression framework alongside the Council’s performance review process. The scheme encourages social workers to demonstrate their ability against the criteria for progression and advance through the career grade.

Can you tell us anything about your training programmes? We offer an annual programme of professional development opportunities available for our social workers to access throughout the year. In addition, monthly lunchtime ‘dine and discuss’ sessions and espresso sessions are delivered by our Principal Social Workers. There is ongoing investment in learning and development opportunities created through the Social Work Academy and a Practice Development Programme designed to embed and underpin the Strengthening Families approach. We have designed a comprehensive core and advanced skills programme through our Children & Adults Academy plus accredited training programmes for Systemic Practice; Practice Educating and Leadership Development. Medway has also been successful as the lead partner to obtain funding for the Kent – Medway and South East England Teaching Partnership, with Kent County Council, the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University from April 2018- March 2020. Together we are developing joint approaches to meet identified needs for students and social workers. The Signs of Safety and Wellbeing practice framework, Solution Focused, Strengthening Families and Systemic Practice models will underpin social work across Medway Council.

That sounds fantastic. Can you tell us anything about the specific support for NQSWs? The ASYE programme aims to teach NQSW’s the fundamentals of being a social worker. It follows the Child’s Journey to better help NQSW’s understand what children experience as they move through the Social Care system.

Medway is committed to ensuring that our NQSW’s can learn from their year, so we promise to maintain reduced caseloads across the year. 10% of their time is protected to ensure they can focus on their learning– that’s 1 day per fortnight. Half of those days are facilitated learning days where they undertake group exercises and presentations relevant to the Child’s Journey and the remainder of the time is for NQSW’s to focus on self-directed learning and completing their ASYE portfolio. NQSW’s also receive weekly supervision in their first six weeks, followed by fortnightly supervision until their 6-month review after which it is monthly. They also have weekly pod supervision and individual and group supervision with their peers. Additionally, one of our Principle Social Workers also spends most of their time supporting our NQSW’s to ensure they are being provided with the right learning opportunities and supported in carrying out their work.

Do you have any specific initiatives to support senior practitioners? Senior Practitioners will have access to a comprehensive core and advanced skills programme through our award-winning Children and Adults Academy. They are also encouraged to undertake

Social Work News - 21

the graduate certificate in systemic practice as well being encouraged to support students.

Finally, can you tell us how you recognise great social work practice amongst your employees? Medway recognises the valuable contribution provided by all our social workers in supporting children and families. Staff are encouraged to progress their career in Medway through our career progression scheme. We provide a wealth of training and development opportunities and have also formed a teaching partnership with two local universities and Kent County Council to ensure our social workers have access to the latest researchbased training. We are also keen to ensure that staff receive a competitive rate of pay by providing market premia and retention payments which reflect the current market position.

Apply today If you would like to work for Medway Children’s Services, then find out more about the vacancies available by visiting or by calling 0333 7000 026

What would you do if you were Chief Social Worker for a day? As you know, we’re always keen to publish your views and opinions within Social Work News. This issue, we wanted to have a little bit of fun, and find out from you, what you would do if you were to be the Chief Social Worker for Adults for a day. We were overwhelmed with responses, and it’s clear that you all have some fantastic ideas so watch out Lyn Romeo!

What would you do

“Make sure that all adults with physical and mental health needs have access to basic education packages and teaching” Sarah, Chiswick “Campaign for more money from central government to help our elderly population whose care is suffering with all the cuts” Afshan, London “Look carefully at the care providers and consider bringing them back under the Local Government. Stop wasting the countries and the individual’s money” Julia, Leeds “Meet with my direct staff to highlight any priority concerns and address any immediate problems then work through list identified” Cynthia, Newcastle

If I were Chief Social Worker for Adults, I would...

“Improve the gap between children and adult services” Kate, Liverpool

“Implement a dedicated multi-disciplinary task force closely linked to police, law courts, with a totally integrated IT system which is updated constantly” Stewart, Dundee

“Encourage budgets to be used more effectively” Verity, Bexley “Put social and health on equal footing in terms of social care would be free to all.” Bev, Merseyside

“Spend the day with the person to hear their experience of being a service user” Eileen, Birmingham

“Negotiate with central government for much needed funds for adult services and deliver a positive campaign for retention of staff with financial incentives” Tina, London

“Ask social workers where the service deficits are and make provision” Audrey, Halton “Campaign for a joint health and social care budget” Sue, South Wales “Stop the purchaser provider split in specialist teams. It is too hard to have to keep explaining the same need to finance teams with no understanding of the issues faced in specialist need settings” Jane, Surrey “Give social workers enough power to be able to sanction care homes, care providers when they fail in their duty of care towards clients” Jude, London “Ensure the adults safety and well-being is promoted via multi-agency working. I would also make sure the information is communicated in easy to understand language. Explain things slowly and use different ways of sharing information so each person is able to understand” Swinder, Bedfordshire

“Arrange for every older person who lives alone to have face-to-face contact with another person every day. Arrange family meetings with or without the older adult to look at what care package they can be involved in” Marion, Fife “Focus most on the more deprived areas in the UK, and also the highest risk / vulnerable cases in those individual areas. We are highly under pressure and although we as social workers, work our socks off, we also are blamed for things that are not always in our control. I think it is more than fair to put some positive pressure on our funders” Katie, Croydon

What would you do if you were Chief Social Worker for Children? Next issue, we’ll share your thoughts on what you would do if you were the Chief Social Worker for Children and Families for a day. If you’d like to get involved, please email

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“Interact with adult services users to hear first-hand about the services offered to them. Interact with social workers at every level to hear their points on whether the service they are offering is adequate to meet the service users' care needs, including what can be done to improve the service provision” Joseph, Rugby “Be a visible ambassador for social work and protect the status” Michael, Doncaster “Do something to make staff feel valued and instigate and promote the importance of team wellbeing” Joanne, Bristol “Look at the system required to put data on the system and bring back good quality admin support” Mark, Croydon “I would take time to visit adult day centres and identify any areas for improvement. I would also meet with frontline staff to hear any concerns that they may have especially looking for resources for adults” Tracey, Renfrewshire

Moving away from barriers to technology In the last issue of Social Work News, we explored the growing impact of technology upon social services. Following on from this, Researcher Sian Cook and Professor Nicholas Caldwell from the University of Suffolk discuss why it’s so important for the social work profession to adopt new technologies to help them support older generations.


Globally, digital technology is becoming an essential part of everyday life, with uses ranging from strengthening social connectivity, accessing public services to monitoring health management. In the UK, digital technology usage is uneven, and many older adults remain excluded from digital solutions. According to the Good Things Foundation (2017), 64.4% of non-internet users are aged 65 or over. One reason for the generational divide could be that younger generations had access to digital technology while growing up, while older generations may have experienced limited or no interaction with digital technology during their working lives and hence had no opportunity to learn digital skills.

Digital technology studies with older adults Studies exploring digital technology application for improving quality of life for older adults are sparse. Some studies have explored older adults’ motivation for engaging with and adopting technology. A key motivating factor for older adults using skype and photo-sharing platforms was found to be connecting with friends and family, while technology usage led to increased satisfaction with family communication, in-person interactions and lower levels of loneliness. Another important factor in technology adoption is the perception of its usefulness. Research has shown older adults, who were non-internet users before the study, found technology useful for accessing information and services. Older adults are not only willing to use technology but often are proficient and wish to strengthen their competency. A higher percentage of older adults used instant messaging to contact family members than other age groups.

Technology benefits – from an older adults’ perspective Although older adults prefer phone calls, they described it as difficult to portray feelings, mood or daily events over the phone. Technology can help them feel more (emotionally) connected to family members and provides an opportunity to express more information. Technology can provide older adults with reminders, wake up alarms on important days, prompt them to drink water or find out information about a topic of interest. In a 7-week pilot test in a retirement home, residents had reduced feelings of ‘missing out’. An unexpected outcome was that the technological intervention improved their self-confidence, with one participant encouraged to start driving again, visiting the local Community Centre and enrolling in a computer course.

Technology adoption barriers According to NHS Digital (2017) many social workers recognise the opportunities to using digital technology in their work, including being able to work flexibly and spending less time inputting data. Potential opportunities for service users include

access to online self-assessments, using Skype for social care appointments and assistive technology being delivered remotely (NHS Digital, 2016). However, enabling older adults to use technology can be challenging. Some older adults perceive technology, such as email and instant messaging to be too complex and are intimidated by which buttons to press. Those with poor social ties may be unable to ask for assistance when technology goes wrong and, according to some older adults, internet users can be very impatient and be poor teachers. Others consider themselves to have a technology resistance ‘built-in’ and question the benefits of technology to their lives, or whether being online is the best use of their time. Security and privacy concerns have also been highlighted. Some friends of older adult participants in a digital pet study requested the digital pet be switched off because they didn’t want it listening to them. Other non-internet users described the internet as ‘dangerous’, suggesting it could impair vision, and cause social consequences, such as replacing in-person interactions and people being replaced with machinery. Another technology barrier concerns its usability by older adults; one study identified that the hardware required adjustments for people with visual impairments.

The importance of technology adoption in social care Social care staff using digital technology can assist in strengthening digital access for older adults. Demonstrating the benefits of digital technology, such as speeding up communication with social care staff, and making things simpler for them, can serve to motivate older adults to adopt technology. However, technology adoption among older adults is unlikely to change unless technology is designed to meet their needs. Encouraging service users for their feedback on using technology can help maximise technology acceptance and conducting usability tests can highlight potential hardware or software barriers. The University of Suffolk has recently tested a tablet for use in a digital technology project aiming to improve older adults’ quality of life, including reducing social isolation and loneliness. Findings so far have suggested that simple adaptations, such as colouring the on/off button, changing text size, and providing a stand, are likely to increase adoption. Research is critical to explore technological changes on society and how it can be used positively by all of society’s members.

Find out more Sian Cook is currently undertaking an in-depth research project looking at how social workers use technology. She is keen to hear from practitioners how they use technology and how they are supporting older adults to engage with it. If you would like to contribute towards her research project, please email

Social Work News - 25

Sanctuary Social Care celebrates social work success After the success of the Social Worker of the Year Awards 2018, we want to celebrate the successes of all those involved in the social work profession. As the headline sponsors of the Awards, and the individual sponsor for the Best Social Work Employer category, the Awards are something which is close to our hearts.

Sanctuary Social Care - Advertorial

Friday 30 November 2018. Royal Lancaster Hotel, London. More than 450 guests came to celebrate the Social Worker of the Year Awards. This is the ninth year that Sanctuary have been involved in the Awards which have now become the leading celebration of social work in England. As headline sponsors and part of the organising team behind the awards, it’s incredible to see how far they have come and how many social work teams and practitioners have been recognised for their hard work with children and adults. When we first became involved with the awards, they were being run single-handedly by Beverley Williams MBE. Bev’s vision was to see social workers celebrated for their hard work and dedication to those in need. Working alongside Beverley has been a real privilege and to see so many people at this year’s awards really demonstrated how far we’ve come. It is our hope that one day the social work profession will receive the same respect as our teachers, doctors, nurses and police colleagues. With each year, as the awards are getting bigger, we are getting closer than ever to that goal.

Celebrating social work employers As part of our involvement in the awards, we are the sponsor of the Best Social Work Employer category. At Sanctuary Social Care, we work closely with hundreds of social work employers every single day; whether they are local authorities, charities or

private sector employers. Having the opportunity to celebrate the very best employers is very important to us, so we were thrilled to present the 2018 prize to Essex County Council. Essex was commended for its approach to social work professionalism, which has seen the development of its very own Essex Social Care Academy. The academy, which provides training for all its staff, was not only recognised by Ofsted for its success, but it has also received accreditation from the British Association of Social Workers for excellence in Continuing Professional Development. When questioned about what set Essex apart from other employers, Chief Social Worker for Adults Lyn Romeo (part of the judging panel), commented: “This employer has managed to put in place a sustainable and comprehensive approach to supporting social workers across all areas to ensure that children, families and vulnerable adults receive the best possible help.” Essex’s entry was summed up perfectly by Paul McGee, Head of Essex Social Care Academy who says: “Essex for me takes things to the next level - what sets it apart? In my view it is the coming together of the community with the Council for a shared goal of “helping all people in Essex County to lead the best lives they can.” At Sanctuary, we are passionate about being a great employer, and it’s clear that this passion is reflected amongst all the nominees this year. With so many pressures facing social work teams, increasing caseloads and continual budget cuts,

Social Work News - 27

it’s never been harder for employers to be able to stand up and really make their staff feel valued and supported. Having the opportunity to learn about the different initiatives undertaken by Essex County Council, as well as those shortlisted for the award, is always rewarding. There are some truly incredible workforces where it’s clear that staff genuinely enjoy coming to work every single day.

A chance to say thank you On behalf of everyone involved in the Social Worker of the Year Awards 2018, we’d like to thank every single person working in the profession. It was once said that these awards only shine a light on the very few; and whilst that is certainly true (there is so much great social work practice taking place that we haven’t yet heard about), it’s right that we use this opportunity to shout about the work that you do. We often hear complaints that the general public do not understand what social work is. The only way that we can help people understand is by using opportunities such as this to share examples of great practice and allow people to realise that what you do really does matter. So, thank you to all of those who entered the 2018 Awards. Congratulations to the winners, and a heartfelt well done to the rest of the finalists. But most of all, thank you to everyone for working in such an incredible profession. You are all amazing. We look forward to celebrating your successes with you over the next 12 months, and we can’t wait for the next award ceremony!

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