Social Work? I’m a little embarrassed…

hand holding

This week we’re dedicating the latter half of the week to World Social Work Day, celebrating the good and great in this amazing profession. We’ll be sharing an interview with one of our own social workers, to find out what it really means to be in this role. We’ll also be recognising a fantastic achievement from the very people who provide the Approved Mental Health Professional qualification in Leeds, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think there’s a basic issue of understanding we need to tackle first. So, please follow the World Social Work Day link above and if you want to find out more about an embarrassing admission of ignorance, please read on and, just to forewarn you, I also have another little favour to ask of you. The embarrassing ‘sharing’ part first…

Adult Social Care, who?
Before I started my job here in Adult Social Care, I didn’t really know what Adult Social Care did, and (cringe) I didn’t really even know that they were part of the council. Yes, the very organisation that now pays my wage and I didn’t know they were the funding many care and support services we have in Leeds for adults. In writing this, I’ve had to ask the question why I was so hazy about the facts; so ignorant and ill-informed. It’s simple (and for that simplicity, I’m thankful). Because this far, I and my family have been fortunate enough to never need the support of Adult Social Care services. We’ve been spared so far but the more I grow to learn and gather an understanding of what ASC does, I suspect we won’t be spared for long. I then wondered if my ill-informed status was an isolated case, but after speaking to a few friends it seems not. There is a mist of misunderstanding and I hope this blog will give a little clarity.

So what is Adult Social Care?
If 10 people were asked to explain it, you’d get 10 different responses and according to the Community Care website, ‘there is no definition of adult social work in law or guidance’ – not exactly helpful when searching for a useful reference point, so I’ll try my own version.  Social care is any service designed to help people with support needs to live well. They also protect people who can’t quite manage on their own, enable a decent quality of life, support independence and encourage people to remain active. I suspect if you thought about it, you’d know someone in your life that fits that description – someone who can’t quite manage on their own. If needed, are they getting support and if not, why not? If it’s because they don’t know that we exist, then perhaps you can fill in the gaps, can bridge that gap.

Why would I need to know what Adult Social Care does?
Like most peers my age, I have elderly parents and increasingly, the tides of care, of worry and responsibility are turning. I will become the ‘parent’ of my parents, ensuring they are cared for and that their welfare and wellbeing is the best it can be. There are already subtle signs of failing awareness; of repeated tales and recurring run downs of life in Lancashire (to the Leeds audience, I hasten to add that my Mum is from Yorkshire!). There are also slightly stronger signs of failing physical health and I think we all know (brother and sister) that the time will come when we will need the help of others; of Adult Social Care perhaps. I know only of the lifeline of Adult Social Care now because I’m part of this world now but there are plenty of folk who still don’t know, aren’t sure. If we are to celebrate the ‘World Social Work Week’, perhaps it’s time to try and explain what we do here for those who are a little at a loss; just like me 14 months ago.

Who are the adults in Adult Social Care?
Who does Adult Social Care support? There’s a part clue in the title – we support adults over the age of 18 but that doesn’t really narrow it down enough. In our world of social work, we talk specifically of people with learning disabilities; with physical disabilities; older people, people with mental health needs and those with long term conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. I know that sounds like we’re grouping folk into defined ‘classes’ but it’s the general term we use. Fortunately and critically though, we recognise the individual too.

Our commitment to the individual…
You see in Leeds, like any other city, the care and support provided by Adult Social Care services is incredibly vast and incredibly diverse because it has to be. As mentioned, we recognise people as individuals too and, as such, they have individual needs which couldn’t ever be met by a ‘one size fits all’ approach; it doesn’t work. The support my Mum may need in the future is likely to be very, very different to that of my Dad’s. That is exactly why there are approximately 900 Adult Social Care support options available in our city alone, acting as a pillar of help for individuals. From traditional social care work such as helping folk stay in their homes for longer by employing carers to help with everyday tasks such as washing, eating, going to the toilet, to the perhaps less obvious work of the DALES team who provide support services for adults aged 18+ living in Leeds who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or Deafblind; the length and breadth of social work in our city is vast. 

And that leads me neatly on to my final point for today. I have already mentioned the 900 services we have. It’s a huge, huge challenge to share what they all are in one succinct blog, so how do you get to know what we know and what we can perhaps do for your friends and families if the time comes?

Whilst we have printed information, we also have the following:

And here’s the important part, I’d like to ask a favour. I’d like you to spread the messages of what we do too; that way, more people could get the help they need. You shouldn’t have to work here to know what I now know. You never know when you might need care and support that Adult Social Care services provide.

Maybe together we can get the right messages across and the right support services to those who might need them. Folk just like my Mum and Dad. Adult Social Care? I know exactly what you’re talking about.

Tomorrow, one of our Social Workers Siobhan Martin, shares her thoughts on what it’s really like to be in the profession and we settle a few stereotypical scores too on what a social worker does.

Lizzie Whewell

About betterlivesleeds

Health, social and age-related care services working together to make Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing
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4 Responses to Social Work? I’m a little embarrassed…

  1. Carol Smart says:

    Is it any wonder people do not know what the services are when every thing has an acronym for a name rather than describing or stating exactly what the service is. It makes a nonsense of informing the public when even the employees do not know what various services are unless they work in the particular team or unit. Some members of the public still confuse us with the Benefits Agency so what hope for knowing who DALES, IMPACT etc are let alone what service they offer and how they are funded.

    • Thanks for your comment Carol. We agree that it is sometimes confusing and that is why we are working closely with services we support, to help them explain clearly who they are, what they do and how they can help. (PJ)

  2. @careopinion says:

    I am someone that has been involved with social care and health services for some time and as a service user I too still get confused and am sometimes unsure of what services I can have and what services I am not entitled to. Or how much they cost or if I should be contributing or if I shouldn’t! The one thing I am sure of is that working with Care Opinion is one of the best things I have ever done. Quite simply we are a service user feedback tool that can go to the very heart of adult social care provision by offering greater transparency and potentially faster improving services through empowering service users, customers, carers and providers in conversations about care. We are confident we can offer an invaluable public platform where providers can demonstrate they listen and sometime change services according to what their service users and customers tell them. Furthermore they can do this in real time and not have to determine everything through more drawn out systems. So please do keep in touch with us at our website: http://www.careopinion.org.uk or talk to us on Twitter @careopinion

    • Glad to hear you are enjoying your work and feel it makes a difference. Being transparent and upfront is always good. Most things start to improve with a conversation, even if it is initially better understanding, so it’s good to see that our blog and talking on Twitter are starting to connect people and start some conversations with service users and service providers. (PJ)

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