resilience

Keep hopeful; keep helpful

I am finding that more and more conversations in social work are ethical conversations about how we do good work in a difficult context. I hear a great deal about struggle. And I find myself wondering how we can aspire when aspiration may not seem realistic.

Much of the work I do requires aspiration. It is about how we empower people, develop excellent practice, build support for social workers, and argue passionately and knowledgably for resources. Sometimes the choice seems to be to either set an aspiration that can never be achieved, or settle for what is pragmatic.

8a Containment and Support

The first part of our eighth podcast is on the topic of emotional containment and support for social workers. We take a look at the theory and evidence around how to help social workers to understand, process and learn from the emotional aspect of their work. 

4b Practical Reflection

In the second part of our fourth podcast we talk about how social workers make critical reflection happen, despite the pressure and busyness of our work.

4a Critical Reflection

The first part of our fourth podcast is on the topic of critical reflection. We take a look at the theory and evidence around using critical reflection, and offer a model for doing good reflection in practice.

3a Busyness and Purposefulness

The first part of our third podcast looks at the topic of how we can remain purposeful in the busy practice of social work, the importance of sustainable practice and how to prioritise well.

How do you motivate people?

Last week I spent the day in a supervision workshop with 25 enthusiastic social care managers looking at how they can best enable practitioners to work well.

Halfway through a discussion, one of the managers asked: ‘how do we keep motivating staff when things are so difficult, when there’s so little money and people are really struggling?’

Good question; particularly now when we have the spending review coming up fast and Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report on poverty just out. How does a social care manager motivate staff when things are tough? Here are a few thoughts.

What helps social workers feel less stressed?

In the safety announcement on planes, you are asked to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs. Social workers cannot help people effectively if they are overwhelmed themselves.

I am really sad to see the results from the Community Care survey about the level of stress that social workers are experiencing. Each response that highlights stress is someone struggling and worrying, often feeling very alone.

In workshops that I do with social care practitioners and managers people talk a lot about stress because of the amount of work they have to do, the complexity and unpredictability of the work, and the responsibility they feel. Here are some of the things that we discuss that might help you if you are stressed.

Just keep paddling

I have just spent 24 hours as part of a support team for a 125 mile canoe endurance event. Our canoeists paddled from Devizes to Westminster, through the day and night, in the rain and cold, climbing out of the canal for 77 locks, and racing to catch the tide that would take them the last 18 miles. I learned a lot about how to help keep people going under extremely difficult conditions, and I think that much of this is relevant to those who are supporting social care practitioners. So here are some thoughts for managers, workforce development - and anyone else who provides social care back-up - about how to keep practitioners going as they paddle along.

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