My first role as a social worker

Hannah Madsen

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Education and Social Care
Course: BA (Hons) Social Work
Category: Social sciences and social care

18 January 2018

Hannah studied BA (Hons) Social Work and graduated in 2017. She's now working as a social worker for Essex County Council: read about her experiences.

I now work as an adult social care social worker for Essex County Council.

My job requires me to work with adults over the age of 65. Currently I visit them in their homes and undertake assessments; I particularly enjoy this part of my job as I’m able to engage with them and whoever is also present during the assessment. It’s a point where I am able to have meaningful conversations and delve into people’s lives, to create appropriate care and support plans to assist with managing their needs.

I also enjoy working on safeguards. This is generally longer-term work with older people who have more complex needs, which can range from mental health problems such as hoarding, or financial abuse from strangers, friends or family. As this work is of a higher level it involves heavy communication and multi-disciplinary working, which at times can be a struggle – but also very interesting – if a suspected abuser is a family member.

I would recommend being an adult social care social worker with older people because, honestly, no day is the same, especially where you have brand new assessments or safeguards. It is a difficult job, it’s complex and can be very fast paced, there are times when it does seem never-ending – but with a good team behind you and a good manager it does get easier and smoother.

One thing that can be particularly difficult is dealing with family members, sons or daughters or even neighbours and close friends of an individual. When systematic procedures prevent or delay required actions, this can of course be extremely frustrating. If the adult is distressed then of course, close family or friends can exhibit this frustration and project it onto you. Support from a senior member in the team or the team manager can assist with management of the situation and resolution.

Working for Essex provides very clear paths in which you can progress for example becoming a Practice Educator (PE), Best Interests Assessor (BIA) or an Approved Mental Health Practitioner (AMHP). In five years I would have liked to have completed the Practice Educator Course and be in a different field of social work. I think it is important to feel able to move jobs to gather more experience and knowledge. I’d also like to volunteer for a charity that is local to me to support society – I’m not currently sure what kind of charity but I’ll be completing my Assessed and Supported Year of Employment (ASYE) first before I venture on.

My social work degree course prepared me well. The course is mainly written assessments or coursework, group presentations (which really aren’t that bad!) and practice placements with a portfolio and essay. The practice placements are the most useful part of the course; they enable you to experience work in non-statutory (usually voluntary organisations) and statutory (local council/Government or private). I was lucky enough to secure a job where I completed my third-year placement in an Older People’s Community Team.

In three words, I'd describe my experience at ARU as: challenging, life-changing, amazing.


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