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A day in the life of a social worker

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Read about a day in the life of a social worker in North East Lincolnshire

A day in the life of a…

Start of the day

My alarm goes off at 6am and I see my partner off to work, I then get ready and spend my time thinking about what the day ahead of me holds. I think about the children and families I have to see today, and what is on my to do list. I leave the house at about 7:45am, to arrive at the office just after 8am.

Into the office

I find myself a desk to sit at, and get my laptop turned on and logged on. I also turn my work mobile phone on to see if I have any missed calls or text messages from parents and/or professionals. I check through my emails once my laptop has turned on and look at Out of Hours to see if anything has happened on any of my cases during the evening.

Since starting my job I have had two of my cases on Out of Hours. This has involved going out to see the parents to determine what further support they need in order to protect and look after their children.

Meetings and visits

My meetings and visits usually start at about 9am. On this particular day I had a Child in Need meeting at 9am to discuss the plan for an unborn baby once they have been born. As a newly qualified Social Worker, I had support from my Case Supervisor who attended with me. This meeting involved discussing where the child would be living, and who would be supporting the parents with caring for the baby.

I then had 3 Child in Need visits, which started at 10am and finished at 2pm. These visits lasted longer than planned as one of the parents needed additional support.

Following my visits, I called my case supervisor to give her an update on my cases and discuss what actions we would take following these. I then went to a Children’s Centre and logged onto my laptop. I replied to some emails and booked two Child in Need meetings. I also made some telephone calls to parents and schools to share information I had received. Oh, and ate a quick sandwich!

Direct work

At 3pm, before school finished, I went and completed some direct work with two children that were new on my case load and I had not met previously. I discussed school and Christmas with these children, and completed “3 houses” task sheet which looked at their house of good things, house of worries and house of dreams. I started to build a relationship with these children, as well as started to gain an understanding of their day to day life. School finished at 3:40pm and I then went onto my final Child in Need meeting.

Home time

At 5:10pm my final meeting had finished and it was time to head home. I had about a 20 minute drive home and I called my best friend to have a chat and unwind, as we do daily. When I got home I had about 30 minutes before my partner got home so I spent some time and reflected on how my day had been and whether I had done enough. Every day is a mix of emotions. Then it’s time for some quality time with my partner before doing it all again tomorrow.

The day begins

My alarm goes off at 6:40am for me to get ready and start my day. I travel to North East Lincolnshire from Hull each day, this gives me a 45 minute drive in the morning to prepare myself for the day ahead. This then allows me a 45 minute drive home to clear my head.

My role

My role is an Advanced Practitioner in Social Worker Practice and Development, which includes a wide range of social work practice areas. Myself and my two colleagues work together to support and develop our future and current workforce from the point of student placements through to experienced practitioners working within the service.

Checking in with our social work students

As we hot desk, I start my day by finding a spot and getting set up with my agile laptop kit. After catching up on emails and checking my diary I get prepared for a check in meeting with the current group of MA social work students who are on placement. This meeting was the first session for our new students and we started off with some introductions and our backgrounds. I shared my own journey into social work which started in 2009 when I enrolled and began my BA in Social Work at Lincoln University. I find it very interesting to hear people’s experiences and journeys that have led them into a career in social work and during this meeting I saw the passion that this cohort of students held. Given that this was only at the early stages of their first placement, we explored self-care and how important looking after ourselves is and how we need to acknowledge the stresses and emotions that come with the role of a social worker. As a group we spoke about little things we can do to look after ourselves and some of these included listening to music in the car, having a night in front of the TV or even having a bath in peace! I provided the students with their own self-care plan that they could fill in and use during their placement.

Preparing assessments and interviews

Following this meeting I was back at my desk preparing alongside my colleague for an upcoming day of social work assessments and interviews. As part of the assessment day we had planned an energiser activity and this needed to have instructions written and all the resources printed and organised. Being involved in the social work recruitment and interviews is so valuable and insightful.

Afternoon workshop

After a lunch break (which doesn’t always happen!), it was straight into a workshop on Restorative Practice. Joined by my two colleagues and an excellent trainer we explored how we can offer our workforce the high challenge and high support that they need and ways in which we can achieve this. With some support and guidance we began to role play and test the use of language and how important this can be in trying to develop a connection with someone. We all left this session with the mind set to ‘seek first to understand and then to be understood’.

At the end of the day, after packing up my laptop, I get on the road home. The 45 minute drive at the end of that day is the time I use to reflect and process my day, ready to walk through the door and be home.

Start of my day

My day officially starts at 6:30am when the alarm goes off however can be any time when my 5 year old decides he wants to wake up and start the day.

I live about 30 minutes away and this time gives me chance to seriously think about what needs to be done throughout the day and get my brain on track for the tasks ahead.

My role

So my role is as a Senior Social Worker within the Children’s Assessment and Safeguarding Team (CASS), which is the child protection team in North East Lincolnshire. To most people I am seen as the bad guy for my job role! I am one of 6 Social Workers within my team and there are 10 teams within CASS.

First things first

When I get in the first thing to do is find a desk as we agile work. I get logged on and set up and make myself that all important coffee to drink whilst clearing through my emails from the day before and check my diary to make sure that I have everything I need to start the day.

At 8:30am we received an email from the out of hours team and this lists every child/family that has come through to our service overnight or over the weekend. I check this and hope that none of my young people/children/families are on here as this usually means that nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

If action is needed then we then we make the appropriate checks and contact the people involved. This could be something as simple as a quick phone call to check in or it could be that a visit needs to be done as soon as possible to see the child or young person and then the family as well. This might be something that I do on my own or I may need a Police officer to come with me from the Protecting Vulnerable Person’s Unit in Brigg depending on the severity.

On this particular day there was thankfully nothing on out of hours for me. However that didn’t mean my day wasn’t busy.

Morning meeting

Next I had a meeting across town in Grimsby with a range of professionals, including the assistant director of children’s services and the equivalent in Humberside Police. This meeting was to discuss some serious concerns regarding a young person who I am working with and their on-going risk taking behaviour.

We discussed the known risks to this young person and to identified ways in which all professionals involved could work together to ensure that they were able to keep themselves safe, and that we were supporting them to do so. The meeting lasted a couple of hours and was very productive meeting. We made some significant progress with suggestions of plans and ways to work in the future. This had been a barrier previously due to us all having different views and different ways of working.

Working lunch

After this meeting it was midday and for most people lunch time, I drove back across to Cleethorpes and grabbed my lunch on the way back. I think I finally ate this about 1:30pm as I was flying out the door to another visit. During the hour that I was back in the office I was on the phone returning calls and emails that had been received.

Afternoon visit

First I had a visit to gather information for a court statement from a Mum. Then I was off to another meeting at a school with a Mum to discuss progress that was being made on a child protection plan and the safety and wellbeing of the children. By 4pm, I was back on the road again heading to a tiny village in Lincolnshire, where I needed to see a new home as they had recently moved out of area.

The end of my working day

When I left my visit I connected my phone to my car and rang my little boy to let him know that Mummy was coming home to see him. After 2 minutes all he wanted to do was press the red button and end the call! I then used the rest of the journey home to reflect on the day that I had just experienced.

This came with mixed emotions as there was the positivity of the meeting going well that morning with relief due to the previous difficulties with the case and then the back to back meetings and visits in the afternoon which are draining.

At the end of the day I pulled into the drive and checked my phone to reply to messages, checked my work phone to make sure I hadn’t missed any further calls on my way home and then gathered my stuff and made it back in through the front door.