New social work research on the nature and culture of social work...

Rachael Wardell, Chair of the ADCS Workforce and Development Policy Committee, said:

“This research, from well-respected academics in this field, provides valuable insights into the nature of the work social workers did with children and families, how much time they spent with them and the job satisfaction levels in the two different social work departments involved in the study, but sensibly also cautions against idealising arrangements in one structure over the other. That said, the researchers draw attention to how a range of elements from organisational and practice cultures to office designs can influence opportunities for informal reflection and support for social workers, staff retention and turnover and the all-important work with children and families.

“The research findings will undoubtedly be of interest to local authorities as we strive to create the conditions where good social work practice can thrive. It is positive that in both the small team office and hot-desking office arrangements social workers did meaningful work with children and families and spent broadly similar amounts of time with them.

“Children’s services are part of wider council services, and arrangements in each council will differ, so it is vital that office arrangements are regularly reviewed and managers are able to address any concerns professionals may have so that the working environment does not adversely impact on their mental health and wellbeing or their work with children and families. We need to listen to social workers about what would make a difference to them, from regular, reflective supervision and being able to debrief with colleagues following a difficult visit to having a confidential space to make phone calls.

“As employers it’s our job to recruit enough skilled social workers and to create a supportive environment which encourages them to stay with us. In that context, I’m pleased that the researchers acknowledge the practical constraints local authorities do face; children’s services are chronically underfunded to meet the level of need in our communities and nine years of austerity has taken its toll on our workforce and our communities.”

ENDS



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