We really do love social workers
“Every day you learn something, it’s fascinating.”
Kate looks after service users – mostly elderly – with high levels of medical problems where long-term NHS-funded care is required. “I consider a key aspect of my role to be ensuring the person is happy, content and has a good quality of life,” says Kate.
“I work with families and service users to support them through complex issues. The main thing for me is that every day is different. You meet new people, who by the very nature of being older, have extensive life experience. That’s what I love about my job the most. I feel honoured that they’d share their story with me; it really is a privilege.
Every day you learn something – it’s fascinating, ” says Kate.
Kate moved from another county straight to Cambridgeshire and began work immediately. “I didn’t want to have a break in employment, so I made sure I had a job here,” she says. “I finished one day and started the next in Cambridgeshire, which meant I had continuous service.”
Having worked for other local authorities around the UK, Kate is full of praise for the members of Cambridgeshire’s social work team who, she says, always listen to her and support her in her role. “My direct line manager is always available and really approachable, which I think is so important. I haven’t always had the same level of support in previous roles and I believe my manager has faith and trust in me to do what I need to do. I’m allowed to train and develop and I feel valued as a social worker,” she says.
Improving the lives of service users is Kate’s priority. Through assessments, support plans and brokerage, she organises the appropriate care for her patients.
“People want to hear my views... that’s huge for me”
After 20 years in the care industry, Becky made a life-changing decision to pursue her dream and enrolled on an access course at her local college. Successfully completing the course allowed Becky to go on to Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, to complete a degree in social work.
“My degree is my biggest achievement to date and allowed me to do the job I’ve always dreamed of doing,” says Becky.
A final-year placement in the older people’s team further convinced Becky that a job in social work was the right career path to follow.
She says: “I absolutely loved it. I felt very supported by the whole team and that’s when I realised that it was the council and area I wanted to work in.”
Becky was offered a permanent job and feels supported and enjoys the flexibility the role gives her.
“There’s always somebody, no matter what level, management or peers, that you can go to for support. Our ideas are always welcomed. For me, one of the best things about the role is that people want to hear my views. The social workers out on the frontline are listened to and that’s huge for me,” says Becky.
“We tend to plan our own diaries – I can have whole days in or out of the office. The organisation is very flexible and allows me to meet the needs of my family. There is an understanding that I am a working mum, which often involves taking the children to appointments or attending parents’ evenings.”
As part of her role, Becky is often out on the road. This gives her the chance to process and reflect on visits or meetings. The allocation of caseloads is also structured to make it as easy as possible for individual social workers when making visits.
“Before we’re allocated anything new, there’s a conversation with management. I generally work around one set area, depending on the needs of the community, to limit the distance I need to travel. This isn’t always feasible, so having the option to work remotely or in any council office is a real bonus.”
Cambridgeshire County Council allows Becky to be the best social worker she can be thanks to the guidance and support she receives from management and colleagues. And, although she currently has no wish to move to management level, career progression is encouraged.