I’m a former social worker and someone who believes strongly in
the professions values. I think that there are things social workers,
whether working with young people or vulnerable adults, do better than
other professionals in particular their focus on the individual’s
total situation not just one element of their lives. In promoting,
independence , dignity, choice and respect social workers challenge
other professionals who are often risk adverse or think there
professional training means they know best. I do believe that when
allowed to do their job social workers can and do make a difference to
people’s lives. My goodness though they do like to whinge !
Social workers whinging is not a new thing, it is not something
that has arise out of austerity, it isn’t a result of splitting
children and adult services or to do with changes in the way social
workers are trained it. It is not an individual thing as in every
group has a person who is more cynical or less positive than the rest.
It’s a group thing. Social workers as a group seem to need to whinge.
May be its a copping mechanism, may be its an inferiority complex,
maybe it’s a reaction to the negativity of the media or a general
feeling of being misunderstood.
I have friends who are teachers and they do whinge on social
media. I have relatives who are nurses and some of them are not happy
in their work but social workers are the champion whingers . Was there
ever a change in the way social work was organised or delivered which
did not result in a collective, persistent, moaning from the
“professionals”. Social workers mantra appears to be, “they don’t know
what they are doing”.
Of course other professional groups complain but social workers
have a reputation for complaining about unimportant things all the
time . Although of course they don’t think they are unimportant.
I think there is a basic flaw in the psychology of the profession
which at the same time as feeling misrepresented and undervalued has
an inflated sense of its own importance.
Social workers don’t
think that hospital consultants, GPs, ward managers, head teachers,
lawyers or Clark’s of the court rate there profession and therefore
their contribution as that important. If fact social workers don’t
think there own senior management thinks them important. In this they
are defiantly wrong. All these fellow professionals recognise that
social work has something to offer, they just don’t think it has as
much to offer as social workers think and certainly not as much to
offer as them.
So how could social workers change the way they are viewed ? On
the one hand they need to be more confident in their professional
skills and on the other they need to recognise often they are in a
supporting not leading role. Most of all they need to stop whinging.
Blair Mcpherson ex social worker former director www.blairmcpherson.co.uk