During placement I have been responsible for organising my diary and managing my caseload. I have completed this task fairly well as I have remained punctual and not double-booked appointments. My caseload has, at times, been fairly heavy and demanding, yet I have still ensured that I have been reliable and competent at meeting deadlines. I achieved this by being organised, prioritising work and accurately recording information.
I predominately have good awareness of professional boundaries as I abided by the agency rules, including not transporting service users, despite being asked, such as with child R. However, I now recognise how easy it is, when you are too emotionally involved with a case, to lose sight of professional boundaries and get them mixed up with personal ones. The desire to help individuals you are supporting can distort your view of the correct practice. This happened to me, however, the experience has been a massive learning curve as I have learnt from mistakes and now recognise the importance of protecting my reputation. As a result, I believe this experience will prove invaluable and help me keep my future practice professional.
Within my work I endeavour to use my initiative, yet I recognise my limitations. Frequently, when I have completed formal documents which need to be shared with another person, either a professional or service users, I have shown them to my supervisor beforehand to confirm that they are acceptable. This mainly consisted of the 3 assessments I wrote for children R. , L and J, as I wanted to make sure that they were properly worded so as not to be viewed as offensive. Values and Ethics Social work values and ethics have been consistently used throughout my placement.
Maintaining confidentiality has been massively important with all the service users I have worked with, both adults and children alike. During my work if there were no safeguarding concerns, I only shared information with the service user’s consent. One example, was a child who felt sad and unable to discuss feelings surrounding the mother’s absence for fear of upsetting the carers who refused to have the mother’s name mentioned in their presence. With the child’s permission, I helped break down this barrier by explaining to the carers, as the main source of comfort, how important it is for them to listen to the child’s thoughts.
By me highlighting the point of putting the child needs first, the carers have now started to acknowledge and encourage the child to off-load his thoughts and feelings to help him understand his emotions. My ability to treat people with respect has been influential with all the service users I have supported as it has helped create good working relationships and even solved a challenging dilemma. This difficult situation was with Child R’s mother who was annoyed with the comments I had made in the assessment.
Nevertheless, by being honest and explaining that it was her child’s voice, yet drawing on the mother’s positive contributions, such as the child being well-mannered. In addition to not being disrespectful and suggesting ‘parenting classes’ when it was obvious that she was experienced enough as a mother of 8 children to not need them, I reversed the situation and removed the animosity. I believe this approach addressed the power imbalance and so the mother saw me as an equal, whilst also empower the mother to feel involved, rather than at fault.
Consequently, the mother would then work with me to secure the child’s best interests, rather than withdraw her consent to prevent me from working with the child, which is what the mother stated that she had initially intended to do. Furthermore, during practice I included individuals in the decision-making process and promoted and protected their privacy. An example is J’s mother as I asked if it was alright to contact her extended family, yet, I respected the mother’s wishes by not making contact as mum did not want me to do this.
Diversity During placement I have worked with a diverse range of people. Not only have I engaged with children, from babies up to children aged 18, but I have also worked with adults. The families that I have supported have consisted of 2 parent families, lone parents, through to grandparents whom have a residency order. These families all had different backgrounds and unique needs, ranging from carers with learning disabilities, those with mental health issues and families who were unemployed and living in poverty.
The children I worked with were not only affected by these factors, but they also had their own issues to contend with, including; child J who had learning difficulties and was significantly behind in his education; child E who was delayed developmentally due to experiencing neglect, and child R who had been subjected to physical abuse and was now suffering with low self-esteem and self-confidence. Taking into consideration the family dynamics and experiences has been invaluable as it has helped me understand issues which the child may be facing as their identity is shaped by life vents and circumstances which are usually out of their control.
For example, Child D was being aggressive towards the mother. The child had witnessed domestic violence as a baby and, although the child was not in contact with the father and mother had another partner, the child’s behaviour had not improved. Although I did not establish the root cause, the decline in behaviour could have been attributed to several things, including the child being refused access to their father, or nother once again subjected to domestic abuse. Thad this notion as the mother’s partner was not keen on me meeting the mother without him being present.
It is possible that this action may have been to protect the mother as she had mental health issues, however, it may have been a form of control which the child had possibly observed. In addition to working with families, I liaised with individuals not directly involved within my cases. In the case of child J. B. , I organised a meeting to establish contact with a half-sibling which the child did not see. The father of the sibling was unrelated to the child I was working with, but in order to arrange contact I had to have discussions with the father and state why it was vital for both children to be in contact.
The father agreed and with my help, all parties were able to secure a mutual agreement for contact to ensure both children’s best interests. This incident highlighted the power I have in role, however, I managed the impact by mediating and letting the family make decisions, rather than me taking control. Rights, Justice and Economic Wellbeing The work that I have been involved in at placement, helped me understand how legislation can advance or constrain people’s rights. The father of Child R had previously had his rights to parent removed as he been forced to leave the family home for physically assaulting his daughter.
After being thoroughly assessed and made to attend courses, the father has been deemed as not a risk so allowed to live with his family again, however, the parents are annoyed as, against their wishes, the family are still monitored by social services, even though the home life is now settled. In contrast, my work with Child E saw the mother implement her parental rights and prevent me from working with her child, despite the fact the child was on a child protection plan.
Trecognised the impact of poverty whilst supporting the family of child J. The family were in need of safety equipment to keep their home safe for their baby, yet they were unable to afford these item. To enhance the family’s economic status, I liaised with other agencies and attempted to obtain these items on their behalf. With this same family, I also worked within the principles of human rights by asking for permission before making a referral for additional support.
The family was in desperate need for this referral to Early Help, yet I was still required to gain consent as involvement was entirely voluntary. Within my work I have attempted to practice the principles of social justice, inclusion and equality. An example was where child R’s mother wanted to make decisions on her son’s behalf regarding how the child should spend their spare time, however, Tacknowledged the child’s right to involvement so ensured that the child was included in the decision-process.
In another scenario, a child had informed me that grandad ‘nips’ the child as a form of punishment for ‘being naughty’. On this occasion, the family’s right to inclusion was over-ruled and consent to share this information was not sought as it was felt that if this was done, the child would be put at risk of harm. This decision was made on the basis that the child spent the majority of time with the grandad, and the mother had already alerted me that grandad was aggressive.