Blog: In recognition of World Social Work Day we are sharing stories from our social care team
In recognition of World Social Work Day we are sharing stories from our social care team.
This year’s theme is ‘Promoting the importance of human relationships’.
Jacky Cox, our specialist professional development officer and Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) lead at Shropshire Council, talks about how important this theme is in the day to day life of a social worker.
The theme for World Social Work Day today (Tuesday 19 March 2019) is ‘Promoting the importance of human relationships’. This has got me thinking about the relationships that I have as a senior social worker in the field of professional development and mental health, the areas in which I work.
I work for the professional development team leading the professional development of the AMHP group of social workers. I have close links to the mental health social work team and to their social workers, having previously been a senior social worker in the central team for several years. I practice educate social work students on placement with the mental health social work team and practice assess trainee AMHPs, who are qualified workers undertaking a specialist role. I have mentored new social workers undertaking their first year in practice.
I am a practicing AMHP undertaking Mental Health Act assessments on a weekly basis. I have undertaken these roles for over 20 years.
Relationships and communication are key to my working life. I am interested in the quality of relationships and in meaningfulness social work interventions. The first key message of ‘Social Work for Better Mental Health’ (Dept of Health 2016) is that ‘Social workers use advanced relationship-based skills – warmth, empathy and genuineness – to help people define and reach their own goals. This is what is so often valued by people using services and their families’.
The AMHPs that I help support and train are recognised by Lynn Romeo, chief social worker for adults, as professionals making:-
‘crucial, urgent decisions about the least restrictive and most suitable context in which people should receive care and treatment, playing a vital, statutory role in protecting people’s human rights and promoting the principles of the Mental Health Act Code of Practice (2015)’ (Dept of Health 2016)
On World Social Work Day, we should celebrate our achievements and our skills in building relationships with individuals, their family and carers. Relationships in social work are about authenticity, attending to the person, being present, listening and building trust. We undertake this work with reduced resources and in an environment where the stress on people is increased by economic pressures. Where support can be difficult to come by for coping with the effects of early trauma or abuse, when life continues to give challenge. Social workers have a listening ear and identify strengths and goals alongside people who may be in distress. Relationships are central to this work, we work holistically, actively and in partnership, we work with the complexity of people’s lives.
In our work environments we also work in partnership with others, navigating the complexities of teams in health, social care and the voluntary sector. As AMHPs we work to reduce hospital admissions and to utilise the resources of the person and their networks, to bolster this at times with crisis team support or other alternatives to admission. We work with police and ambulance services at points of stress where resource difficulties can mean that AMHPs wait numbers of hours for support to admit distressed or unwell people to hospital. We do this with calmness showing others dignity and respect.
In our work spaces we endeavour to master the bureaucracy of recording systems, budgets and the everyday challenges of having a space in which to work, a functioning ‘wide reception’ phone and a place to park the car.
We hugely value our colleagues and the peer support that is given, the friendship and the camaraderie of working together as a team. We use the strength of our relationships to support each other, so on World Social Work Day let’s think about and celebrate the strengths of those that we support, and our own strengths as social workers.
Social work is always about how we do things, the relationship that we offer, the consistency, the regard and authenticity. Social workers at their best are people people. So, on World Social Work Day, thank you to all the hardworking social workers, AMHPs, social care practitioners, and supportive administrators at Shropshire Council for the work that you do and the difference that you make.
Specialist professional development officer (AMHP lead), Shropshire Council
Find out about the many rewarding and varied ways to make a difference when you work in social care. Visit www.shropshire.gov.uk/adult-social-care-jobs/