Social workers aim to positively impact the lives of every child and adult in their care. Although every day is different, there are common themes and responsibilities that most practitioners attend to regularly. Different social workers are engaged with different demographics and sections of the population, so their roles in health care, family, or clinical social work will dictate the details of their daily routine. However, interviewing clients, meeting service providers, and performing administrative tasks are universal aspects of the role.
How a typical day might start
Although this is not a role in which workers have a daily routine, some things remain the same. One of these is checking on open cases when the shift begins. Social workers do this to ensure that everything can be attended to in an emergency for all their clients in crisis. In this field, tasks are ongoing, and a situation can deteriorate quickly. To avoid a problem snowballing, they try to respond to any emerging issues quickly and with compassion.
Catching up on messages and emails
Once they are sure no overnight emergencies have been called in, the next task is checking through calls, voicemails, texts, and emails from clients, colleagues, and other professionals. Constant communication is part of the job as things can change quickly, positively and negatively. When they do, social workers need to react.
Attending professional appointments and meetings
Over an average day, social workers might have to attend many appointments. These could be with officials from the local education department, the court system, or healthcare workers. The work could involve making referrals, advocating for clients, or gathering more information on an individual or family. Social workers will also meet with non-profits, community groups, and fundraisers to get practical support for their clients.
Getting together with clients
Part of the job that social workers often find most rewarding is connecting with their clients. It might not make up much of a working day, but building a connection with children and families is incredibly motivating. Social workers strive to provide their clients with the resources and opportunities to change their lives, and this is a highly engaging process. Clients feel supported by their caseworker and appreciate a sympathetic ear, so these meetings are often highly constructive and beneficial.
Guiding people to available services
It’s not all about interviews conducted in an official style and serious checks on progress. Social workers are also keen to listen and offer any insight they may have that could improve a person’s quality of life. Clients may be dealing with a range of problems and emotions following illness, the loss of a job, or divorce. Social workers can tell them about classes and clubs, refer them to another provider for help, or discuss a roadmap for their recovery.
Ensuring the safety of children in the care
Practitioners may also need to speak with children who are living away from their parents for various reasons. They might be staying with relatives, living in a foster home, or being cared for in a residential treatment center. Whatever interaction they have with young people strengthens their relationship and the trust between them. This, in turn, is more likely to lead to cooperation from the child and a positive outcome.
Helping to manage people’s expectations
Sometimes a client will expect good news, but social workers must present a realistic view of the situation. This is especially common when it comes to legal proceedings and court action. Occasionally they will be obliged to write a court report which includes necessary details but leaves the client feeling hurt. In these cases, attending and speaking with clients in the aftermath can be a challenge. Social workers want the best for their clients, but they need to take an objective view, especially when a child could be in danger, or a person is not managing a drug habit well.
Taking care of the administrative tasks
Social workers need to complete administrative jobs between meetings, emergency callouts, and scheduled appointments. Everything they do during the day must be logged accurately and appropriately, and then all the upcoming meetings should be noted. Most social workers carry a diary, so they are less likely to forget an interaction or a conversation of significance. Typing these up is time-consuming but ensures social workers remain compliant.
Sometimes caseworkers are called out to deal with upsetting circumstances. Their clients can experience chaotic events and have lives that lack organization, so it’s common for emergency callouts to happen regularly. Social workers respond to whatever has happened in a calm, compassionate way. They call for help from other services, such as the police or the ambulance service if necessary and try to give their client helpful advice on dealing with the problem. This is often the time clients are most in need of outside assistance; by showing up and taking responsibility, practitioners show that they care and can be relied upon.
Connecting with outside agencies
Social workers are good at what they do but even they need help to solve every client’s problem. A large part of the job involves liaising with organizations and groups on their client’s behalf. They evaluate how these agencies might help and establish the best way for their client to access this help. The better their connections, the more tools they have at their disposal. Furthermore, by building a good network, social workers can create a team spirit and promote efficient cooperation. When organizations and caseworkers have a good relationship, it is easier to navigate protocols and any red tape that could delay a solution. That’s why social workers devote part of their working week to building and nurturing their network.
Being an advocate for their clients
Advocacy involves taking action that ensures people are treated justly and their rights are recognized. It gives clients the ability to affect change themselves, improves dynamics within a family, and ensures community-based ventures are a success. As such, advocacy takes many forms. It could be delivered on a personal level when social workers chat with children in the care system and get their needs met. It can help adults get access to recovery programs so their lives can return to normal or provide a voice for a community that needs better healthcare.
Why is social work such a rewarding vocation?
It might not be a glamorous profession, but social workers gain a tremendous sense of accomplishment when they have changed their clients’ lives for the better. Whether they are helping an entire community or working with families and young children, the focus is always on achieving the best possible outcome. If you love the thought of helping others in distress and want a meaningful career in which every day brings new rewards, social work could be an ideal career. Bachelor’s degree graduates can enrol in the MSW-accredited online program at Spalding University and qualify in sixteen months. Along with coursework that provides a good grounding in social work principles, students carry out field placements that give them practical experience in the role.
Your work helps others
You’ll see people at their best, being kind and community-minded, as well as at their worst, needing help and being vulnerable. One of the best, if not the best, aspects of this job is turning people’s lives around and making their circumstances different, and better. The most memorable reward is seeing the people you have encouraged and pointed in the right direction overcome the troubles they are experiencing and emerge on the other side free from crisis.
There’s never a dull moment
Every day brings new challenges and situations that are often unexpected, and you’ll be working with different people; as a result, you’re always busy. When a client is in need or you need to have a last-minute meeting with a service provider, an element of flexibility is required. You’ll often need to work at short notice and rely on your wits, but many social workers thrive in this exciting, dynamic environment.
It’s rarely a desk job
If you crave freedom and want to spend only some days sitting behind a desk, you will be satisfied with this career. You’ll spend all day out in the community, visiting clients at their homes or collaborating with other professionals at their facility. There will be some paperwork to complete and cases to work on in the office, but you’ll spend more time outside than you do in.
The work is incredibly varied
Social work is a diverse career in which you’ll have many chances to change direction or specialize in a field which interests you. As your experience level grows, you might explore work in the prison service, mental health, or the community. A great thing about this role is you have the option to change direction when you feel the time is right.
You experience positive personal development
When you first go into social work, you might need to be fully aware of your skills. In the role, you’ll learn more about your strengths and how these can be used. You could excel at communication, at problem-solving or leadership, or your creative thinking will make you a great practitioner. Wherever your career leads, you’ll grow as a person and refine skills that are transferrable to any situation.
Social work empowers you
If you are passionate about the need for social justice, social work empowers you because you can deliver it. Every day you could be exposed to upsetting situations and stories about drug habits, hungry children, and communities in distress. However, using your professional training and contacts, you can offer emotional support and practical assistance to ensure your clients can overcome their current problems. Helping people take care of their health, to manage their lives more effectively and to be successful is a great feeling.
What social workers wish the public new
Social workers care deeply about every client they are involved with and are often profoundly affected by their cases. The public only sometimes knows about some parts of the role.
Social workers need to take care of themselves as well.
In order to deal with their daily experiences and responsibilities, social workers have to practice self-care. This includes monitoring their energy levels, eating well, and taking care of their mental health. This is done by establishing a support system in their place of work so that colleagues can rely on each other. They will also practice mindfulness, are ready to say no to extra work when necessary, and give themselves regular quality time away from work.
Solving problems takes time
Social workers try to help people to help themselves rather than leading them to a solution. This means their clients are more self-sufficient should a problem arise in the future. However, helping people in this way takes time, and accepting the limitations of their role can be difficult for many caseworkers.
The nation’s mental health is a priority
Social workers are of crucial importance to the nation’s mental health. Research has found that 37% of licensed social workers list mental health as their top area of practice. In very rural and remote areas, they are often the only providers of help for people who are trying to live with a mental health condition.
Social work is not an easy career, but it is an incredibly gratifying one. If you want a role where you can improve people’s lives and make a positive difference in an entire community, what are you waiting for? The sooner you apply, the sooner you can get started.