So I’ve ‘come out the other end’ so to speak and made the leap from a frontline social work post into another job. While I don’t want to cover the specifics of what I’m doing – that may come with time – except to say it’s related – I wanted to pause and consider how the move has gone.
On the positive, having come from being a social worker seconded into an NHS team employed by a local authority that barely seemed to remember that it had Mental Health Social Workers and couldn’t quite grasp the fact that not all of their employees could access their LA intranet/email system, it’s actually really pleasant to be a part of an organisation that remembers I exist! While it can be easy to joke about, it could get both frustrating and lonely being out on the periphery between NHS and LA – owned by neither – and ‘belonging’ to an organisation can be important psychologically and certainly helped develop a loyalty to an organisation.
Organisational loyalty can be positive in the sense of belonging but there’s also a need to see beyond ‘blind loyalty’ and to be aware of accepting criticism where necessary.
I’ve done a lot of ‘meeting’ of people. One of the most refreshing developments over the last week is that I’ve met many people from different occupational backgrounds in a ‘work setting’ and that’s actually something very new for me. I’ve worked in social care since 1993. Gulp. While I dabbled briefly in another field for a couple of years since then, that was in a very different context but basically it’s been a LONG time since I’ve had constant contact with people who haven’t worked in the health and social care sector.
It has allowed me to see the world and particularly the sector through ‘different eyes’. So much of our ‘system’ makes no sense whatsoever that I’ve almost become used to it.
Putting more money into dementia screening but not providing any services for those who have dementia diagnoses to garner more personalised support makes no sense yet it will ‘tick another box’.
‘Personalisation’ in name only while Local Authorities deliver exactly the same ‘managed personal budgets’ that they did before the individual had an ‘personal budget’ with no more choice’.
The existence of residential care provided at high cost which delivers poor quality via staff on minimum wages while profits siphoned upwards.
None of this makes sense in the sector and yet the challenges to some of these from within the sector need to be listened to.
I’m in the middle of solid induction programme. The last proper induction I had was when I did my last social work placement which was.. um.. quite a few years – and a few jobs – ago. It’s something I’m trying to make the most of. There’s a lot of learning which is exciting to me. I enjoy learning and while the skills I have are those which got me to the point of ‘getting the job’, I will need to develop a lot more to move on.
I’m excited about going to work – I know it’s still early days but while there were parts of my last job that I always loved – there were fewer of them.
On the other side, I miss people. I miss the people I worked with and the families I came to know. I miss my colleagues who were to an individual, a fine group of people who wanted to make a difference despite the organisational obstacles placed in their way and I miss the confidence I had in knowing what I was doing/who to talk to about things/how a particular organisation works.
It will take a long time for me to feel as comfortable in the new organisation as I did in the last one but that took years of experience and relationship building to grow. I had (I think!) a good reputation within the last organisation of working hard and I need to start building another reputation from scratch.
I may need a bit more time to adjust than I thought I would. After a week, fortunately, I still think it was the right thing to do. I’m thinking of the ways I can ‘transfer’ my skills and knowledge. I’m absolutely sure that I will be able to.
I never thought I’d leave ‘frontline social work’. I’ve been reflecting a lot on that. It was absolutely the job I felt I was ‘made’ for and what I wanted to do. I also thought that those who moved away were ‘running away’ from the real social work. And I’ve done that myself. It was one reconfiguration of services too many as far as I was concerned. I’m hoping my old team gets some fresher eyes to challenge with and some different perspectives to put some more fight into the sector. One thing the sector needs is more fight. Is staying put and fighting more ethically coherent than moving on when you feel ‘ready’ and challenging from the outside? I don’t know but I will continue to ponder and reflect.
Of course, I remain a registered social worker – having just renewed my registration although I would have registered regardless and can’t see myself giving up that registration ever really – and will continue to relish the values of advocacy and endeavour for better services but will be coming from a different angle.
Maybe it’s just now I’m seeing social work more broadly than I did last week and perhaps that’s no bad thing.