[United Kingdom] Embedding Families’ Experiences into Social Care Practice

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17 Mar 2020
Community Care

An unfortunate situation turned into a success story between a social worker and her service user in Suffolk, United Kingdom.

Emily was suffering from drug and alcohol misuse; she was in a bad relationship and was about to lose her son. She had a social worker, but she felt judged by her and could not open up because of the lack of trust. When a new social worker (Kirsty) took over her case, Emily became calm and honest about her situation, and realised how much trouble she was in. Thus, she decided to get herself together and change her situation.

Since then, Emily has started living a better life and shares her social care experience at seminars. Her experience inspires social workers to make greater efforts to understand and address their service users’ concerns. Social workers try to be better every day by learning from examples and through experience.

Key qualities of a social worker:

  • being honest
  • calm
  • friendly
  • approachable
  • supportive
  • involve the service users in planning
  • learn from examples
  • learn through experiences
  • able to challenge families without overwhelming them

Suffolk’s workforce development team is working on turning this awareness into training to create a community where everyone’s (service users and carers) voice is heard and has an impact. For example, the application interview questionnaire for children’s services social work has been made by adult and young service users with adults and young people.

In order to help these partnerships, service users and carers have developed a framework consisting of six pillars (6W):

  • What did the council ask them to do?
  • When does the council want this task done?
  • What is the task?
  • What type of role is this (paid or volunteer)?
  • What is the impact on their benefit entitlement?

Along with the aforementioned, the programme ‘train the trainer’, where lecturing has been extended to service users as well as up-skill social workers, is a valuable tool.

In total, these changes received positive feedback, and the Suffolk and Norfolk councils are keen to integrate the voice of service users into their curriculum to highlight how it transforms social care.

Emily and her son are flourishing. They are moving into a new home and she is sharing her story in order to help other service users and carers. A good practise has been started at Suffolk County Council and they are moving forward to build a better future in social care.

This project is funded by: