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Why are Social Workers so vilified? - Carers UK Forum

Why are Social Workers so vilified?

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
132 posts
I find it a little depressing but not surprising to read about the ‘uselessness’ of Social Workers (SWs).
So, in their support and based upon my experiences and those of my ex colleagues, I would suggest that, in general, sometimes/often clients expect too much of them (SWs that is).
Quite often that is because many, coming into contact with a Social Services Department, particularly for the first time, are not made aware of what a SW can or cannot do. Thus expectations of what a SW can do are based solely upon personal assumptions which, in turn may be based upon incorrect information.

The Law.
One thing that is important to remember is that they (SWs) have to operate within the Law and Procedures so if the Law or Procedures do not permit them to do something, they cannot. The SW does not make the Law or usually, write Procedures. The Law also protects the client who may well not be the person that is having the reportedly poor experience. Though we all want to do our best for our nearest and dearest it is more often that they are the client and it is their interests that must be put above all else and it is also their confidentiality that must be vouchsafed.
So if there are difficulties ask yourself the question ‘who is the client in all of this?’ and remember, as a Carer, it may not be you.

SWs have to record facts, actions and corroborated evidence.
Any assumptions etc. are not usually recorded and if they are they should be clearly identified as such. This can make a record appear to be cold and dismissive.

People quite often expect too much of a SW.
SWs do not ride unicorns or have any ‘fairy dust’. They cannot always make everything better and please bear in mind that the only people who can usually make any situation better are the people in the situation. Helping is about enabling people to help themselves, it is not about making the issue 'go away' for them.

Advice is exactly that – advice.
It is not, usually, about making decisions that should be made by others for themselves; whenever possible. Sometimes advice given can be challenging to hear, it can raise negative feelings in oneself but please try not to reflect them back upon the SW. Discuss the advice given, feel free to challenge it but please try not to vent anger and frustration.

Most often it is not the SW who makes decisions.
Social Services Departments, like any service, have budgets within which their workers must operate and that fact means that some tough decisions have to be made at times. That may mean that your needs or those you care for cannot be met at the time because someone else, who you will know nothing about, has higher priority needs. This may seem exasperating at time, so again, please try not to reflect your anger and frustration back upon the SW. It is also that most often the SW that you meet most often is not the one making any decisions but their manager and in turn, their manager’s manager etc. and so it goes, up the line.
It’s very frustrating for the SW too!

Anyone could and should complain.
If anyone used to become upset with me, my actions or the messages I was giving and we could not resolve that upset between us I would invite them to either discuss the issue with my manager or make a Formal Complaint. I would carry leaflets informing them how to do this and in some cases I helped them to do this.
If your SW does not do this then ask the SW about their Department’s Formal Complaint Procedure; ask how you can obtain a copy of it.
Doing this may actually cause reflection upon a decision and change an outcome.

SWs are human too.
Please try to remember that SWs are also human, with all the range of emotions and stresses we can all experience. (They may well experience far more due to the nature and quantity of their work. They may suffer frustration at their own inability to ameliorate a situation because of the constraints placed upon them.)
Many are also carers though they may not work in a Care Department, they can empathise but not sympathise.

Social workers would not have a job to do is our carees were healthy.
They are paid very well, over £30,000 for a qualified social worker.
They are not there to make judgements about us, they are there to do a job, implement the legislation.
When people have critical needs, those needs should always be met.

I have run a small business for 20 years, and a national club.
I've also managed the accounts for a hospital.
My family included 3 engineers, so the attitude here is that if a job needs doing, it's done as quickly as possible so the vehicle or plane gets back into service, fully operational, as quickly as possible.
I get paid nothing.

All I want is for social workers to do what they are supposed to be.
I never ask anyone to do more than they should be doing anyhow.
My frustration comes from their apparent inability to do what they are supposed to be doing!

My son and I should have:-
A completed and agreed Needs Assessment
A completed and agreed Carers Assessment
An agreed Care Plan.
All the above should have been completed by 1st April 2016.

The assessments are inaccurate, incomplete, not agreed.
The social workers (3 new ones in 15 months) denied this, without ever asking me why - vital information was missing, no risk assessments included, my son was supposed to be receiving day services and domiciliary services at the same time, 30 miles apart, on one day! Clearly, both statements can't be right.
For over a year the social workers refused to even discuss them, never mind complete them and do an agreed plan.
I have been dealing directly with the Head of LD Services and Head Complaints Officer recently.
I received a detailed action plan recently, saying who would do what, by when.
On paper, it was a good plan. By 10th July, two different people should have contacted me to do various essential pieces of work.
I haven't heard from either of them.

Social work has changed immeasurably in the last 40 years. Gone are the days when they were there to support people emotionally. Now they are there to work out how much (or little) help they need to keep the cost of the care package as low as they possibly can, but from all of those I have met, they simply haven't had the training to do this sort of work properly.
There has been a move away from transparency, telling people everything that they might be able to have, towards "gatekeeping". No self referral, the social worker has to refer clients for various services, so if your face doesn't fit, you don't get it.
My son has problems with care staff who don't understand how to do simple accounts to make sure he doesn't over spend - as he can't read or do any maths he's reliant on staff support. My complaints are not taken seriously because social work staff are not confident dealing with anything involving simple accounts - adding or subtracting using a calculator.
There is a failure to keep proper records, and a failure to read records, now that they are all held on computer, they might just as well not exist.

Social workers need much more training on how to work efficiently and effectively on a business basis. Had they done so, none of the problems I've been experiencing endlessly would have arisen at all.
I will tell you exactly why some social workers are useless in my opinion. Is it acceptable for a social worker a person has never met before in his life to turn up at his bedside whilst he is in ICU fighting for his life (a fight he later lost) and tell him that it is not in the Social Work Department's policy to fund care at home when it costs over a certain amount and then without any discussion to hand his parents (us) two sheets of paper with a list of dementia elderly care homes on it and tell us to go and visit and pick one? Our son was 31 years of age, severely physically disabled with a trachy and a University graduate. How can they think that a dementia care home was even capable of meeting his needs or acceptable for a young man with a brain to be dumped into against his will simply on grounds of cost? That is why we are angry. Then once his friends got up a petition and we got some pretty horrible press the Social Work Dept backtracked and then said they would indeed pay for the care he needed at home but we should not have had to go to the press and fight so hard to get what he was entitled to. In the end it didn't matter as he died after picking up his ninth infection in a so called sterile ICU. If it was not for social work delaying things perhaps our son would not have picked up so many infections and might still be alive so I do not just scorn social workers I will hate them forever for what they did and will always blame them for our only beautiful child's death.

Also the horrible b**ch who camt to see us was smug and full of herself. I said we would be fighting this and that there was no way they were going to get away with dumping our son into one of these places and she smirked and said well you can try. What a disgusting attitude - all they care about is their budgets and keeping their jobs - they don't give a damn about the people they are supposed to be helping and they damn well used my husband and I for 31 years of 24/7 caring without a break to save them money!

Looking at the bigger picture , SWs are the " Face " of a System that tends to enslave far too many carers , selling their meagre wares in the hope to pacify many whose needs are far beyond their mandate.

It is not therefore , unsurprising that SWs are seen as the " Unacceptable face of the System " ... mere foot soldiers offering , in many cases , little more than sympathy .... in many ways , on par with our own support organisations in that respect.

Don't shoot the foot soldier .... they know no different !
They try to manipulate people
Yes, and when their attempts to manipulate fail, and they come up against someone like me, they hate it. They know that I know what they should be doing.
Furthermore, I'm not interested in them being my "friend" I just want them to do the job they are paid to do.
I'm certainly not going to pity them doing their "difficult" job either.
As a Council Tax payer, it would be much better if they worked more efficiently so every moment counted. It takes an hour, in busy periods, for them to drive to my house from their office, so every visit to me involves two hours driving, totally non productive time. They will always charge the LA for mileage. I suggested to the head of the Adult Services committee that it would be much more efficient for clients like me to be paid mileage to drive to their office. It would not only free up their time, but give me a chance for a "paid" trip out. (Even better, there's a sewing shop nearby).
That is a simple practical solution for them to maximise their efficiency. Needless to say, it wasn't followed up!
They jump to erroneous conclusions and think that they know best
They very rarely say sorry, even when they do irreparable harm to people's lives.
I am a carer at breaking point
1 SW knows but mum does not meet needs of residential care as mum lives in my house they could move her but at 93 it would kill her as my sister said. I feel trapped and completely broken
2 My home but my only option is I move out and they put a bigger package in my choice. going back to advice and enabling
3 I completely understand there roles, laws, safeguarding etc but at the end of day when I have reached my point and its like screaming into a void no one is there The social worker offer mum respite as I was struggling so much as I have mental health needs as well and mum refused! The SW said she was relived as was struggling to find a suitable placement. and not heard anything since
4 I understand resources are stretched etc and by the way I am sick to death of carers, district nurses who come in and say its not how are you no its we are very understaffed we are struggling to meet all the needs sickness holidays etc. Well have my life for 24hrs work part time manage mums needs and manage my health needs then you may think actually we can cope at least you can go home at the end of day and close the door and breathe.
I know how hard it is I work as a housing officer and we have our pressures and I am straight on someone when they moan about staffing time etc :-???
132 posts