A day in the life of: Social Worker
If only the answer were as simple as the question! If you had ten Social Workers in a room together (although there would be a few missing due to sick leave, training and being late!) you would inevitably have ten different answers – after the brainstorming session – or ten blank faces. The majority of over-worked Social Workers are often too busy doing "it" to spend enough time working out what "it" is!!
The more considered and helpful answer to the question is that Social Work is about links into the personal, cultural and social levels that helps us to understand and manage difference in a society whose consistent theme is change. Social Work in the wider bureaucratic context is the link amongst and between other disciplines to protect and provide for our clients and their carers and families, attempting in the process to be checks and balances, and the agents of change.
On the wider social themes, policies and politics (local and national), Social Workers strive quietly (and sometimes noisily) to overcome prejudice, stigma and discrimination and supporting people's human rights. The central priority for the practical Social Worker in supporting people's independence and individuality is safety for the person, their family and friends, and safety for the public. Without safe practice you cannot achieve the goals of supporting stability, development and hopefully fulfilment for our clientele.
Social Work is also about the clichés that the media love to perpetuate, the paper-pushers who take your children away and help to sign the papers that put you in hospital, and whilst doing all that we are the ones that were missing when everything went wrong. There have been mistakes and, regardless of the jokes, we are human and fallible; however, I don't know any Social Workers who apply for Sections, and protect children and families without searching their conscience that their actions are safe. And these actions, throughout, are in the partnerships so essential to our work, with patients, clients, doctors, nurses, police, housing, social security and importantly, families. We are the social fixers who, having sought the meaning of needs and problems, strive to provide the solution.
Ray E. Social Worker