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Social Workers under “Significant Strain”
Practitioners are working through illness in order to manage their high caseloads
A recent study carried out by Bath Spa University has shown that social workers aren’t taking time off when needed, in order to keep up with their caseloads. With support from the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Social Worker Union (SWU), Bath Spa surveyed more than 1,200 practitioners. 60% of them said that they had gone to work when they should have taken sick leave, on at least two occasions over the last year.
The research also showed that social workers were putting in an average of 10 extra hours work a week, which equates to £600m unpaid overtime per year when applied to the entire UK social work workforce.
40% of those surveyed said that they were dissatisfied with their jobs, with half wanting to quit within the next year and a half; these findings were mainly found among children’s social workers.
The study’s lead author, Jermaine Ravalier, said that the findings showed the levels of satisfaction social workers got from their jobs “can no longer outweigh the lack of support they are experiencing”. He went on to explain: “Deep budget cuts are forcing social workers to take on more cases than ever, putting them under pressure to deliver a service to people that are often vulnerable with fewer resources. In order to keep up, they are simply giving away days of their personal time.
“If this keeps up, and the social workers we spoke with do leave the profession, local authorities will be forced to pay for contract workers who are expensive, transient, and certainly won’t be working lots of free hours.”
Social workers said they would like to see decreased caseloads, improved managerial support and supervision, and steps taken to address “the blame culture” affecting the profession.
Ravalier has agreed to work together with BASW and SWU on suggestions they could present to the government on how to address the problems identified.
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