Reflective automatically reflect on my performance on this

Reflective Essay: Work Shadow

Introduction: The act of Shadowing
is to observe a professional social worker in their job, to gain a better
understanding of the role of a social worker.

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For this essay, I will be reflecting on
my experience of shadowing using Gibbs 1988 reflection cycle. I will describe
what happened focusing on critical events 
and evaluate the impact of these incidents on my learning/practice (Gibbs,
1988).

I shadowed a social worker for a day (on
29th November 2017 10am-4pm). Prior to this I had a lot of
difficulties finding a social worker who would agree to be shadowed. I
contacted several local authorities and voluntary agencies but none were
willing to help due to organisational rules and policies. (HCPC 2 and 3)

At first, I was very surprised about the
difficulties in finding a social worker to shadow. This made me feel very
frustrated, sad and very anxious as I knew my inability to find a suitable
candidate will automatically reflect on my performance on this course. Robert
Plutchik’s theory on emotions states that emotion plays an important role in
issues of survival, and it involves both cognition and behavior. (Plutchik, 1980).  Because of how I felt about the issue I made
it a priority to resolve it. But all my efforts were unsuccessful. I then
contacted the lecturer as she had mentioned in one of her lectures for students
who are unable to find a social worker to contact her via email.  With the help of the lecturer I was matched to
a suitable candidate.

Prior to meeting the social worker, we
communicated frequently through emails.(PCF 1 and HCPC 2).  I got a sense she genuinely wanted to help (PCF
9). This made me feel very comfortable knowing I could ask any question without
feeling intrusive.

The social worker works within the Child
services  team in the London Borough of
Greenwich. At Greenwich their vision for children and young people service is
for each child/ young person
to take full advantage of the opportunities available. Whilst acknowledging
that in some cases, some children/ young people will need more support and, for
them, every day matters and every action counts. I linked this to BASW Human
right and social justice as well as PCF Domain 2, 4, 7 and HCPC 1, 3, 6 and 7. I
also related this vision to the aims the 1986 Children’s Act which is the duty
of local authorities to ensure children
are safeguarded and their welfare is promoted. (Johns, 2009). Since it’s a
children and young people service the main legislation used is the Children’s Act
1989. This act highlights the rights and needs of the child

This
made me reflect on the link between practice, legislations and acts. This
prompted me to think about the necessity of using law in social work practice.
Because in order to effectively deliver support, the law must be put in
practice to ensure the needs of service users are adequately met and appropriate
interventions put in place to effectively safeguard the most vulnerable. (PCF 7, HCPC 1,2,3,4,6,7
and BASW 2.1 and 2.2)

On reflection on the role of the social
worker, I understand social work is a way of
promoting social change, development, social cohesion, the empowerment and
liberation of people. I then begun to relate this to BASW’s explanation of the
role of the social worker. Which is, Social work is a profession with the main
purpose to the most vulnerable from abuse, harm or exploitation. To effectively
advocate on behalf of service users using appropriate interventions,
legislations and policies which promotes the right, choices and views of the
service user.

Being able to see social work theory
applied  in practice made me appreciate
more the value Social Workers add to the lives of vulnerable children and
families.  I also thought  about the impact I could be making to the
lives of vulnerable people once I qualify and start practicing.

I made sure to ask questions
which will enable me complete my essay and also analyse the learning gained
through this experience. I asked about the organisational or the wider social
context which impacts how social work is delivered. She started by explaining the
structure of the organisation. Which is the internal and the external aspects
of the organisation.  Resources and functions, as well as behaviour
and culture, and finished by addressing the issues involved in the management
of a changing environment. She also talked about the structure of the
organisation. (PCF 8)

The social worker also
emphasised she has only been with the organisation for 2years, hence she is
still getting used to the organisation and their processes. She mentioned the
structure/process within the organisation can at times create limitations and
barriers which affects her work. She gave an example of the new CIN review assessment
form which has just been introduced. We both went through the form together. However, she was
very open and honest by saying this is her first time using it. Hence she isn’t
confident about using it.

The
social worker explained one of the limitations as lack of training(s). She
mentioned, when new things are introduced, there isn’t always the opportunity
for trainings. And without trainings individuals/ team(s) lack the knowledge to
safely use it. Hence there is a lot of trial and error method to see how things
work or doesn’t work.

Hearing
this got me thinking about how I will deal with such an issue when on
placement. I started to think about  how I
will learn to manage the form rather than allowing the form to manage me. I
also started to think about organisational deadlines and how I was going to
deal with that and not allowing that to be focus but the needs of service user
and getting the job done.  This also led
me to think about supervision and how reflective are supervisions? To enable me
talk about personal I am having getting adjusted to systems and processes.

She
also briefly explained how cases are allocated and the resources available. She
mentioned that in order for social work to be effective, partnership working
within the agency and with external agencies is also promoted. This made me
reflect on the importance of partnership working especially in complex cases
whereby specialised support may be needed to meet the holistic needs of the
service user. (PCF 4,5,7 and 8).

The
social worker had scheduled a CIN review meeting that afternoon which I will be
shadowing. She talked about the importance of having an idea of the history of
the family. So she printed the chronology of the family for me to read. It
consisted of detailed reports about the family, the needs and risk, as well as
how they came into contact with social services.  And the impact receiving support has had. She
thoroughly explained about service users right to confidentiality and making
sure all information are safely stored with only authorised person(s) having
access to it (HCPC 5). I also noticed that a small section in the CIN review
form talked about confidentiality. From seeing this, I realised confidentiality
is very important as it helps to
build and develop trust with service users (HCPC 9)

Secondly,
while I was going through the chronology for other service users, I noticed
some had timers or deadlines next to it. The social worker explained each time
an event or activity is due to happen this will notify you so you have an idea
of what to prepare. She also mentioned that effective time management skills is
essential especially when you have to present reports for meetings or court cases.
Also before we left for the CIN meeting she made sure we had enough time for
travel and also mentioned it’s a good practice to arrive earlier than the
service if you can as it demonstrates professionalism and respect (PCF 1 and
HCPC 1). I also demonstrated good time keeping skills by arriving on time for
shadow. This also made me think about the importance of time keeping. Being
punctual and organised as well as prioritising important task first will
essentially have a positive effect on my work. My initial impression of the social
worker is that she was very professional (PCF 1, BASW 2.3). I was dressed
appropriately for work and communicated appropriately and effectively. I asked
question when appropriate and took directions without any issues (PCF1 and HCPC
2).

A
day spent on the frontline and seeing social work in action has enabled me to
understand how social workers actively engage, assess, support and protect
vulnerable people from harm. My awareness of risk and safeguarding is that
whilst some service users may present with minor issues which requires a bit of
support and sign-posting. Others may also present with much complex issues
which requires a lot of interventions and skills in order to promoting
independence, providing support and protection, taking preventative action and
ensuring safety whilst balancing rights and risks. (PCF 7). This made me realise
that assessments needs to very thorough, be curios and ask the appropriate
questions to ensure everything is recorded and that service users gain access
to appropriate level of intervention(s) required. I also started to think about
how to protect and safeguard myself as a student. I started to think about what
I want to gain out of social work. Making sure I build emotional resilience and
not allowing my work to affect my personal life.

To
conclude, I would like to highlight about the importance of student being shadowing
as this enabled me to observe the reality of the support delivered by
social workers. Secondly, with the aid of reflective skills I was able to think
about how I would act if similar issues arise when on placement. I also learnt about
lone working policy and making sure I see it and read it when on placement.