Supporting and developing resilience in social work
Supporting and developing resilience in social work

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Supporting and developing resilience in social work

1.1 Social worker resilience

To help you think about resilience for yourself as a social worker, in Activity 1 you will see three videos featuring Cassie, a children and family social worker. In the first video you will see a snapshot from a typical day in a busy children’s social work team and a referral that comes in concerning an allegation of sexual abuse by a grandfather. This is the sort of very emotionally upsetting and challenging task that social workers may have to engage in. In the videos that follow, you will hear from Cassie about her approach to social work practice and how she handles some of the stresses she faces. As a student you might not have experienced this kind of referral directly but it is highly likely that you will have faced other kinds of challenges, uncertainties and dilemmas. This activity will help you explore how Cassie and the team deal with these aspects of social work practice and to begin to identify ways of developing resilience in your future career.

Activity 1 Developing resilience

Allow about 1 hour

Watch the following videos and note your comments in the table below.

Video 1: A referral

This video shows you a referral coming into a child protection team and it will help you think about the resilience needed for social work.

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Transcript: Video 1 A referral

[TYPING]

WOMAN:
Right, because she she-- sorry, because she said that she'd [INAUDIBLE] and she discussed--
JAMES:
So basically, what's happened is that granddad was downstairs, asked her to snuggle. And then she's gone on to disclose that he's got his bits out and touched her, as well. She's become quite upset about this. There's no indicator to say that she's not going to be age-appropriate to be videoed. She's made what seems like a reasonably clear disclosure. What I'll do is I'll ask the social worker to start doing an assessment, because then we know what we're looking for as much as you do, really.
CASSIE:
All right. Thanks, bye-bye.
JAMES:
Cassie--
CASSIE:
Yep?
JAMES:
Have you spoken to the school?
CASSIE:
She is busy and will call us back. She's got contact details of the mum, in terms of telephone number. But both of the girls are in school.
JAMES:
Right. OK, the police are going to try and arrange so we can take this girl up for a video interview. The problem is, they won't be able to see this girl to prep her, which may be a bit difficult. So what we've got to work out is A) how this girl's doing emotionally, and whether she's able to go through video interview. What I suggest you do is give mum a call.
CASSIE:
Yep.
JAMES:
Check she's OK. Go through the process and the procedure. Talk to her about the video interview. Clearly, she done the right thing. It's important that these children don't go and have contact with anyone in the family.

[TYPING]

CASSIE:
My name's Cassie and I'm a social worker up at Boardwalk. Hi. Are you able to talk right now? Yeah. I'm just ringing you about, obviously, the referral that's come through. Yeah, I just wanted to ask you a few more questions is that's OK. We're trying to make an assesment as to whether it would be appropriate or not. And whether she would be able to talk to a police officer, obviously with yourself present. And the police officers are trained to speak to children and to gain the evidence, really. And do you think she'd be able to do that? Yeah? Does she have any special educational needs or anything? Is she-- no? OK. And there's no reason that you would think that she would-- that it's not appropriate for her to do that? Yeah, if you ring up and say you wanted to speak to a duty social worker, it will be either myself or Vicki today. OK? And somebody will be in touch with you later on today. All right. No worries, speak to you later. All right. Bye. Oh. Poor lady.
WOMAN:
She hasn't said that bit? OK.
JAMES:
I don't actually want to give you this case, because I think you've got too many cases at the moment. So it may be-- it would be better if perhaps, Vicki picked it up. I think you've got more space than Cassie to pick this up at the moment.
VICKI:
Yes, thank you, James.
JAMES:
So it's going to be my gift to you.
End transcript: Video 1 A referral
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Video 1 A referral
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Video 2: Carrying out home visits

In this clip you will hear from Cassie about how she approaches going out to see a family.

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Transcript: Video 2 Carrying out home visits

CASSIE:
First of all, you walk into the house, and you want to know that it's an acceptable standard, that it's safe, as well. Or like, depending on the children's ages, you want to see safety gates. And if there are dogs and things, and cats, that the litter trays aren't just on the floor. And like, toddlers aren't able to just get hold of it. You look for lots of different things-- evidence for drugs or alcohol, depending on the case. I always check that the children have got-- that there are enough beds. That they've got enough bedding, that the sheets and blankets are clean. That there's food-- there's food in the house. We always try to see, on the initial visit-- we always want to see the child with the parents and how they interact and what their relationship's like-- lots of things. But it very much depends on what you're going out-- what the referral is. What the type of-- whether it's domestic violence. Is it drugs? Is it neglect or emotional abuse?
End transcript: Video 2 Carrying out home visits
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Video 2 Carrying out home visits
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Video 3: Managing workload

Cassie talks about some of the ways in which she copes with pressure and how she maintains her own emotional resilience.

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Skip transcript: Video 3 Managing workload

Transcript: Video 3 Managing workload

CASSIE:
As a social worker, you need to-- which is hard to do-- you need to learn to be able to recognise when you're stressed and when things are creeping over into your own life and to be able to say to your manager, actually, this is becoming quite difficult, and to say, no, enough's enough now. I'm not going to stay up to whatever time doing case notes tonight, because I need a break and you need to look after yourself. But it is about having a manager who recognises when you're getting to that point. And also, I think, as a newly qualified social worker, there was-- I think-- myself. I had this expectation of-- I need to have done everything. I need to resolve everything. And actually, you never are completely on top of absolutely everything. And you can never solve everything. And you can't control people. And people-- when you're not there-- are going to-- you know, the families you work with, when you're at home, are going to do what they-- even if you've told them not to do something, they will do it. And you can't control that. And I think when you become at ease with that, yourself, and you recognise that, you can take a lot of pressure off yourself, thinking, I've done everything I can do to possibly make the situation safe. And now I'm going to have to go home, and whatever happens happens. And just relax in the fact that you've done everything you possibly can.
End transcript: Video 3 Managing workload
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Video 3 Managing workload
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Note your comments here.

Table 1 Your answers to Activity 1

How did you think you would feel dealing with a referral like this?
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What might be some of the tensions and stresses for the worker who will go out to see this family?
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What support might they need?
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What emotions does Cassie express (verbally or non-verbally) when talking about her work?
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What are some of the uncertainties she faces going to see a new family?
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What supports Cassie? Is this enough or would you like to see anything more?
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Comment

You probably came up with a substantial list of actual or potential things that might make any social worker, however experienced, feel anxious or upset. In the film, Cassie talks about the ways in which she copes with this pressure and tries to support her own emotional resilience, including seeking support from her manager practically; you might have also thought about emotional support. Cassie also discusses the importance of looking after her own well being and setting appropriate boundaries to support that. Do you agree?

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