The awkward squad

 
"Opinionated"  that's the word my placement supervisor used to describe me when I was a social work student. Is it so bad for a social worker to be opinionated? 

According to a recent guidance note from the D of H, ADASS and the chief social worker for adults, social workers provide an essential role in an integrated system by challenging other professionals who's training  and back ground may led them to be risk adverse. This is about promoting the social work values of independence, dignity, respect and choice but you can see how some hospital consultants, psychiatrists, psycho-geriatricians and medically trained staff working with people with a learning disability might regard such " challenges". A lot may hing on whether the consultant considers the challenge appropriate ( bearing in mind they rarely get challenged in their medical environment) and whether the social workers line manager supports the challenge. An unwanted challenge could be dismissed as inappropriate and a social worker who sticks to their view could be described as,"opinionated".
 
Some one who challenges  other professionals on behalf of their client isn't going to stop at those working for other agencies but will also challenge their own management. As a senior manager I found social workers as a group the most vocal, the awkward squad, always coming up with ," yes but have you thought of.....".
 
But senior managers need to be challenged by professionals in the same way as organisations need effective trade unions otherwise managers become overconfident and only listen to what they want to hear leading to ill informed bad decisions which later have to be reversed. 
 
Words like opinionated are used as criticism but when we think about why social workers are essential it is because they look at the whole person they take a wider perspective and can come to a different conclusion and you wouldn't want them to change that view just because it was inconvenient.
 
Social workers are supposed to be a pain in the arse but then that's me being opinionated again. 
 
Blair McPherson ex social worker and former director www.blairmcpherson.co.uk

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1 Comments

Ryan Ayers 3 Years Ago
Great piece Blair!