What makes an outstanding social worker?

14th October 2013

A young adult discusses the positive impact outstanding social workers have had on her life  

A good social worker will do their job and follow the protocols put in place to deliver a service that is adequate for a young person to live the life they want. A great social worker is someone who goes above and beyond to give a young person the best start to their adult life. An outstanding social worker is well informed on legislation relating to looked after children, they have an understanding of theories that guide their practice and they care deeply for the wellbeing of a young person as they would for a member of their family. An outstanding social worker ensures that a young person has the prospects of a fulfilling life. A poor social worker does not do any of the above but rather their actions often hinder a young person from living the life they want.

I have experienced all types of social workers. The worst type of social worker made me feel that they did not care because of their lack empathy and actions when I needed their support. One particular social worker I remember was never compelled enough to bother to do the basic things I needed, which meant that promises never materialised. However, it is the outstanding one’s I always remember with fondness and a deep appreciation; because without them in my life I would not be where I am today. My favourite social worker offered me stability and was very personable. I never felt that she was a social worker because I was not a 9-5pm for her; she really showed me she cared about me. The best thing she did for me was to instigate and assist the process of bringing my family together. She saw what needed to be done and did not wait to be told. She fought on my behalf to ensure that my school life was not disrupted and showed me the deepest compassion when I felt I did not deserve it.  On my 16th birthday she gave me a book that until today I still re-read. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my social worker saved my life.

Anyone can be an outstanding social worker because it starts with seeing that young people have so much potential if they are given the right support. To be an amazing social worker you need to instil a sense of trust in a young person that they can be happy.