Interview with a social worker
Interview with a social worker

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Interview with a social worker

2 Skills and challenges

Activity 2

0 hours 20 minutes

In this audio clip, Sally is asked how she would like to be described, as a support worker. If someone were to ask you the same question, what would you like them to say? Note down some of the phrases you would most like to hear. Think about the skills and qualities you identified in Activity 1.

  • How confident do you feel about the skills and qualities you have identified?

  • Are there any you feel you need to develop further?

Download this audio clip.
Skip transcript: 2: Skills and challenges

Transcript: 2: Skills and challenges

Chris Kubiak
If someone were just to describe you as a support worker, what would you like them to say?
Support worker
Probably that I was very conscientious, I think. I take my work very seriously, although I’m only part-time. I like to do a thorough job. If I can’t, I’m not happy really. If I do an assessment, and there’s something that’s not right, I really feel that I have to follow it through, even if there’s limitations to me being able to do that, with my role and my working hours. But I think … probably conscientious. I feel that I’m a very conscientious worker.
Chris Kubiak
You feel quite strongly your duty of care in a way?
Support worker
Yes. It’s very important to me. I feel that, when I go to see service users, in a way sometimes I’m their first point of contact. And I feel it’s very important that they feel that they’re getting a good service right from the start, because that can carry on all the way through, when they’re then accepted on our service. I think it gives them some kind of reassurance really, that it’s going to go well in hospital; it’s going to go well when it’s at home. We’ve looked at the situation before, so that we’ve covered every eventuality really. So I like to feel that, if it’s done properly right at the beginning, it sets the pace for it. That’s how I like to feel.
Chris Kubiak
So you’ve set them up really well, making sure they have faith and trust in what’s going to happen with the service because, in a way, you’re the public face of it as well.
Support worker
Yes, definitely.
Chris Kubiak
What about skills? What kind of skills would you hope people would notice?
Support worker
I think communication. I think that you can almost assume that people know what you’re thinking. Because I do so many of them, because they’re quite routine, sometimes you can get complacent and assume that people know what you’re talking about, people assume that they know the procedure, and things like that. And I think you can’t go in there assuming. You need to consider everyone as an individual. And you need to be really clear on communication. One of the things I always try and do when I’m going from a service user’s home, is just to clarify exactly just what we’ve discussed … what’s going to happen … just go over things, and just say, “Right, well they’re going to contact you. This is what is going to happen,” because I think it tends to get lost a lot of the time. People sit and listen to you, and you can see it almost coming out of their ears, because they can’t take it all in.
Chris Kubiak
So you’re really clear with them, but also it sounds like you really work quite hard to read the situation, read where they’re at?
Support worker
Yes. The reason I like community working so much is that you never know what you’re going to walk into, really … mental health issues, social issues … it’s a wide bag. Although you’re there really for a specific reason, part of my assessment is to look at everything holistically, rather than just think, “Well I’m just here to provide equipment, I’m just here for them to go through dressing things for the operation.” It’s more than that. It’s looking at the whole situation for them. And sometimes its trivial things that are worrying them, that you can reassure them on … and it is really … communication is definitely a key part of that.
Chris Kubiak
And seeing them as an individual, it’s more than just a sum of their parts?
Support worker
Yes.
Chris Kubiak
That’s surrounded by a lot of other things … family, community, or things that may seem small. What about challenges in your work?
Support worker
I think, for me, is probably walking away from it a little bit … because, in occupational therapy, in a way, is sort of a slice of pie. Maybe a social worker looks at the whole thing holistically … and I find it quite frustrating that I’d go in and I can only work within the boundaries that I’ve got of my role, and that I then have to pass things over. So I find that quite difficult … and also that we can’t always provide all the solutions for all the people. We see a diverse amount of people, and they’ve got different problems, and sometimes there is no answer … the housing, the social support, the loneliness. There are some things that we can’t address, and I find that quite difficult because you need to be quite strong about it and think, “Well I’m here just to do this”. They are in difficult circumstances but, unfortunately, there’s nothing we can provide on that level. And that’s sometimes hard.
Chris Kubiak
Because there are issues that are just so big that they’re beyond the service and beyond you.
Support worker
And it’s a long-term, ongoing problem they may have, and there are not always solutions, unfortunately.
Chris Kubiak
Sounds like it’s quite emotionally demanding sometimes.
Support worker
It is. On that side, it’s quite rewarding because, for some people, some things appear to them to be quite big … a quite major event in their life … and you can go through things, and you can see some kind of solution sometimes, and that can be quite rewarding.
Chris Kubiak
So are there any other challenges?
Support worker
Probably prioritising and maintaining the workload because, being part of a multidisciplinary team, we get a lot of students, a lot of rotation staff, a lot of locums, basic grades … and so I’m probably one of the more permanent staff there, probably along with another two or three … and so my workload increases and decreases, depending on the staff ratio that we’ve got there. So that can be quite difficult, because I’m part-time, and I feel that I’ve got to juggle the workload accordingly, really.
Chris Kubiak
So there are peaks and flows. But also you’ve got new people coming in, and people leaving. That feels like quite a choppy place to work.
Support worker
It is, in as much as you don’t get many members of staff that are permanent, stay there for a long time. I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘passing through’ kind of workplace, but it’s very fragmented. And I think, probably multidisciplinary working in other teams … is probably one of their problems as well, I’d say, it is quite a fragmented place to work in.
Chris Kubiak
Fragmented?
Support worker
Well, in as much as you’re quite separate … you’re lone working. I’m working on my own for a lot of the time. Although you’re part of a team, you don’t get regular contact … you don’t really see people much in the day. I feel it’s quite fragmented in a working practice kind of way. You need to seek out people, rather than be part of this team that sits down once a day and has daily communications. It doesn’t work like that. If you’ve got a problem, if you feel you need support, you need to seek it out really. You need to go and get it, rather than it be made available for you.
End transcript: 2: Skills and challenges
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Discussion

Comment

You may have used words like:

  • professional

  • caring

  • knowledgeable

  • confident

  • kind.

You may also have mentioned skills or knowledge that you possess, like:

  • communication skills

  • time management

  • understanding your clients.

The words you chose to use indicate the skills and qualities that you intuitively feel are important to your ability to do your work. If you have identified a need for further development, you should discuss this with your manager or supervisor, as it will help in identifying your professional training needs.

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