Are social worker the champion whingers? 

It was the hot desking survey in Community Care that provoked this but there is a serious point

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


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