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How can we keep social workers in the profession video

This short video looks at what councils around the country are doing to keep social workers in post and how they can help make this very demanding profession a place where people with the right skills want to stay.


(Time: 00.13 – 01:08)  Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman, LGA Children and Young People Board

Supporting vulnerable people is one of the most important jobs that council's do. And whether it's looking after vulnerable adults or children or families when things have gone a bit wrong, at the heart of that work are our social workers. What we've been doing is working with other organisations with expertise to look at how we can best maximise the opportunities for our social workers to develop in their professional career, to make them as effective and efficient as they possibly can be in supporting the people to whom we have this responsibility. In this podcast we're going to be hearing from people with real expertise in developing the career opportunities for social workers, our two national Chief Social Workers, who as well as direct personal experience, have been learning from the best as they've looked at what councils are doing around the country to create the best possible opportunities. And also from people at the frontline about what it's like to do the tough daily job of being a social worker and what would really help then to develop their careers and be the best possible social workers they can be in the different places that they work

(Time: 01.15 – 01:52) Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults

Why do you think the Standards for Employers are so important?

The Employer Standards for employers who employ social workers are an excellent framework to ensure that all social workers are getting the right supervision, the right opportunity to reflect on their practise, good approaches to workload management, good approaches to building their resilience and ensuring that they can be good, strong professional social work leads. So the employers standards I think are a real benchmark to show this organisation is really valuing their social workers, wants to retain them and wants to ensure the best conditions are in place to allow good social work practice to flourish.

(Time: 01.58 – 02:58) Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families

How can practice leadership help develop and retain social workers?

For years we've had a system in place where we've basic grade, newly qualified social workers who may have moved up into advance and maybe senior practitioner roles. What the role of Principal Social Worker does, is give a sense of a whole career pathway in social work and close to practice. So that a lot of senior people are now Principal Social Workers, it gives social workers coming into the profession, somewhere to go to in the future. So it gives the sense that this is a whole career and most of us that came into social work, we want to stay in social work. You don't do this job unless you want to make a difference, but it's equally important for people to feel they can progress and it's really important to local authorities that they retain their really great frontline practitioners. And I think this is a real symbol of the value that we are placing on frontline practice and hopefully will encourage people to stay in the profession and to move forward towards those more senior roles.

Thoughts from some frontline social workers

What's the best thing about your job?

(Time: 03:08– 03:18) John Gale, Team Leader, Learning Disabilities Team, Liverpool City Council

Working with a variety of different people, a variety of service users, carers, different professionals and each day and each week there's different things in my diary. 

(Time: 03:08– 03:28) Rima Rajput, Team Leader, Accident and Emergency Specialist Social Worker, Liverpool City Council

The best thing about my job is making a difference, enhancing the quality of life of service users. patients and most importantly, their carers.

(Time: 03:29– 03:43) Mike Westhead, Snr Practice Lead, Cheshire West and Chester Council

I think there are two things for me, I think it's the challenge, I really enjoy the challenge, it's intellectually and emotionally challenging. And I think it's the opportunity to support somebody in doing something really good in their lives and making a positive change.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

(Time: 04:02– 04:14) Jen Ryan, Social Worker, South Community Team, Blackpool Council

Diverse, because sometimes you can come in and you can be working with the police or mental health services because you've come across a family that are in crisis or somebody that's vulnerable in the community that you need to try and protect.

(Time: 04:15– 04:18) Sam Johnston, Social Worker, Initial Contact Team, Blackpool Council

It would be, exciting, unpredictable and fun.

(Time: 04:19– 04:35) Dave Howard, Team Leader, Peripatetic Team, Liverpool City Council

It's an extremely complex profession, it's a demanding profession and the complexity and the demands are increasing over time as new legislation's introduced, but it is ultimately a really rewarding profession. 

Have you ever considered leaving the profession? What makes you stay?

(Time: 04:54– 05:15) Richard Jones, Social Worker, Adults with Learning Disabilities, Blackpool Council

I have considered leaving social work, I remember being sat at home one day researching all kinds of different careers, from driving instructor, to plumber, to electrician, anything that wasn't social work. The best thing that I did was tell somebody at work that I was feeling that way and as soon as I'd done that I realised that the support was there for me and from that point onwards, I never looked back.   

(Time: 05:16– 05:55) John Gale, Team Leader, Learning Disabilities Team, Liverpool City Council

I think as a social worker I felt like I was well supervised, I feel that we need to use our colleagues to feel that we are well supported, because every social worker within the team has different skills, knowledge base, different things to get involved in, from group work, from the variety of jobs they've had in the past, but also if you have regular supervisions with your team leaders which I've always done. It gives you time to reflect on your case load and that's one of the things which is really important, that you can kind of step away, step back form your cases and think what have I done, how have I done it and what could I do better?

(Time: 05:16– 06:05) Kate Williams, Hospital and Rehab Social Worker, Cheshire West and Chester Council

I consider that about 10 o'clock every morning. What makes me stay, is by 2.30 I'm enjoying it, by 4.30 I've loved my day.

(Time: 0:06– 06:10) Mike Westhead, Snr Practice Lead, Cheshire West and Chester Council

I must admit, I've never thought about leaving. I'm lucky enough, I love doing what I do.