Rapid Response Social Worker

Anna is a Rapid Response Social Worker based in the north of Norfolk, where a large team of people cover a big geographical area providing support to adults.

What made you decide to become a social worker?

After I completed my first degree (which wasn’t Social Work related) I got a place on a Graduate Trainee Scheme with another local authority. I worked for a year as a Family Support Worker in a Child Protection team and then went on to do my Social Work MA at UEA. I knew that I wanted to have a job that involved helping people, but the Graduate Trainee scheme gave me the opportunity to discover what working in Social Care was really like, to work alongside Social Workers and see the highs and the lows of the job first hand. I started my career working for Children’s Services. I then had a career break, moved to Norfolk and started working for Adult Social Care in 2014.

What qualities do you think you need to become a social worker?

It’s a career where you need to be clear and rigorous in your thinking, often assessing risk and complex situations, but also be personable and able to engage with and support people – I like those two different sides to it. We don’t always get to say what people want to hear, but I think it helps if we can do it with respect. You do really need to value and respect people as individuals and not take it personally when people disagree with you. It can be very busy and demanding, so it helps if you’re organised and can be flexible too. And if you’re working in rural Norfolk it helps if you can follow a SatNav!

Where do you work? 

I work in a community-based team in Adult Social Care. It’s a team that supports adults living with physical disabilities or mental health conditions with a mix of roles including Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and Assistant Practitioners. There are more than  80 of us in the team, covering the North of the Norfolk. It’s quite a big area so we tend to have specific geographical areas we each cover.

What does a typical day look like? Describe the kind of decisions you make throughout your day.

I’m a Rapid Response Social Worker. This means that I’m doing work that needs a more urgent response. During the pandemic we were trying to do as much of this as possible remotely, but these are often the situations where we do still need to visit. It could be because there is a safeguarding concern or a change in somebody’s circumstances meaning that they need more support or support for the first time.

This may be that a person has dementia and there are concerns about their physical safety and understanding of risks in the home, or that somebody’s main carer is no longer able to provide support and we need to find an alternative. Or it may be that there are concerns that somebody is being abused or exploited and we need to look in to that a bit more. It’s often a case of assessing the situation and deciding along with the person and their friends and family what needs to be done.

On a typical day I’ll be doing an assessment by telephone, video call or a visit and then following up on this – referrals to voluntary agencies, sourcing home care or residential care for example. Of course, there’s some paperwork to do too, making sure that what we do is recorded clearly.

There’s also the ongoing training and development. We have regular reflective practice sessions which I’ve been involved in leading – a chance to take a step back from the work, support each other, discuss cases and share knowledge between the team. I’ve also recently been a supervisor for a Social Work student who was on placement in our team. I really enjoyed helping her learn what it is to be a Social Worker in Adult Social Care.

 Describe the challenges during this past year, how has it changed the way you work?

In the main we’re still working from home. As with all jobs it’s sometimes not very easy, but it has shown that it is possible and that we can achieve a lot remotely.  It has been amazing to see how well those we work with have adapted to the new way of working too. I’ve spoken to residents in care homes via video calls for example and had online meetings with family and professionals that we’d usually do in person.

If people have communication or hearing difficulties or we’re concerned about their level of understanding, we still need to visit. We’re fully equipped with PPE and but can pose challenges for communication – people being able to hear us clearly with masks on for example. It’s also an ongoing challenge in the current financial climate, balancing need with the resources we have available.

What do you like best about working as a social worker?

I like the variety that there is within the job. Always meeting new people and encountering new situations. I also really enjoy listening to people and trying to understand what’s important to them and their perspective on their situation. It’s a real privilege at times when people share how they’re feeling or open up to you. I also really enjoy working as part of a team, getting to know others, supporting each other and learning from each other too.

Is flexible working possible with this role?

Although we do mainly operate during working hours, there is some flexibility. Working from home to some extent is usually an option, and if we do work outside usual hours it’s good to be able to use that time at a later date if needed for a personal appointment or other commitment. Some colleagues work compressed hours or nine-day fortnights to fit in with their lives.

What would you say to someone who is considering a career in social work?

If you are considering it then I would definitely encourage you to find out more– speak to somebody in the profession, do some research online. When you qualify as a Social Worker there are so many different areas you can work in, you may be surprised.

We are recruiting now for social workers all over Norfolk. See our vacancies page and apply today.