11 things carers like (or would like) their social workers to do

As part of our "I like it when..." series, we are sharing what our community likes to see, hear and feel, from different parts of their lives. In this blog, we will be specifically covering the topic of social workers.

Being an unpaid carer can be emotionally and physically exhausting, and our social workers can play an important part in accessing respite and support services.

Social workers can make us feel heard, improve our own health outcomes, minimise our logistical challenges, reduce our exasperation and stress, and simply improve our day-to-day lives.

What follows are genuine comments shared by our carer community.

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"I like it when my social worker...

1. Is able to stay with us

“Stays for years meaning they get to know us, and build a relationship with our child. It also saves me repeating myself every time a new one starts.”
“Builds a relationship with us, and doesn't get moved on every few weeks or months.”
“Social Workers are constantly moving on, so there’s no continuity and no return phone calls.”

2. Has access to budget and resources

“Has the budget to fund the equipment and respite we need - when we need it - not when we’ve reached crisis point.”
“Is able to get us the support we need, without making us jump through hoops (go on extra courses etc) before the actual support becomes accessible."

3. Uses positive and clear language

“Uses positive well thought out language - rather than things like 'child in need' or 'foster care' for respite care - some of the terms really upset me. In fact, when we had a respite family, we were given the foster care paperwork to sign - they just scribbled bits out and I tore out the whole bit about input into schooling - they were only having our daughter for one night per month. It was really upsetting.”
“Visits my parents at home and really establishes a rapport with them, speaking quietly but clearly so they can hear but don't feel jangled or patronised, and asking questions which really draw out things they've never articulated before.”

4. Pays attention to detail

“I like it when my daughter’s paperwork does not include chunks of information relating to another child or labelling her with the wrong gender.”
“Social Worker put down my brother's name to enter into the care home instead of my Dad's - & that was an official doc!”

5. Creates less paperwork

“I like it when I’m not asked to complete repetitive paperwork.”

6. Considers the carers' needs

“Is as interested in my needs as a carer as they are the person I care for (and I’m lucky, mine does).”
“Remembers who we are. Provides support to the carer - a listening ear even when the person I care for was in hospital and outside her remit. Asks ME really simple questions which just cut straight to the core of what I need to work out. Expresses sympathy. Offers to do some phoning around on our behalf. Comes back with the info and asks how things are going.”

7. Supports us to keep the support we have

“Allows me to step out of 'victim' status, without the risk of losing the support that we have. I’m allowed to actually have a good life.”
“Supports me to thrive, not stay stuck and risk losing support if things start going better. They're getting better because of the support.”
“Allows me to feel like I can say 'we're having a good day' or 'my daughter slept last night', without feeling that we might lose some support.”

8. Is known and available

“Is allocated, named and develops a relationship with us to see we are people, not simply a case note.”
“Listens and supports us! Haven't got one at present and the Community Care Worker signed us off last week despite me asking for help arranging a short respite break for me. I dealt with 3 different social workers last year.”
“We no longer have a designated social worker for adults with learning disabilities now that live at home with a parent. I have to deal with a duty social worker who cannot leave the office and seems clueless to my daughter’s needs. We are pretty much on our own! No one phones to check in, I leave messages and they don't get back to me!”
“Responds to my emails quickly... Remember in adult services at least in my area they only allocate a social worker for assessments or changes in care. Otherwise it's the duty team.”

9. Puts our needs first - not the system's

“It’s emotionally exhausting, resharing my story every time we get a new social worker. One social worker had her introduction meeting with me, I shared everything, then at the end of the meeting she apologised and told me she was leaving. The meeting was for the benefit of the social care team who ‘need’ to see us every six weeks - there was no benefit to me or my family.”
“Sees me face to face, as I am deaf.”

10. Is proactive and efficient

“Turns up as arranged.”
“Returns my phone calls.”
“Keeps me updated on referrals rather than waiting to be chased.”
“Returns your call, and listens to you. I have a very good social worker.”

11. Has a 'say it once' approach

“Doesn’t say, ‘I know you have told the history of your MS to your previous Social Workers, but it’s new to me so when were you first diagnosed’...”
“Doesn't make me repeat the same thing over and over again.”

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What's next?

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