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Temporary roles for students boost social care front line

Published May 07, 2020 11.33am


"I feel like everyone has a level of anxiety about the uncertainty we are living in. Personally, knowing I am helping my team and vulnerable families and children makes it worthwhile."

"I feel like everyone has a level of anxiety about the uncertainty we are living in. Personally, knowing I am helping my team and vulnerable families and children makes it worthwhile."

"I feel fortunate about being a keyworker in the frontline of adult social worker, as I am supporting people in these critical times and when they need the most help from services."

Those are the reflections of just two of a cohort of new Durham County Council workers brought in to help vulnerable children and adults during the coronavirus pandemic.

The local authority has moved to increase the frontline support it can offer these groups during COVID-19 by giving temporary roles to social work students.

Students helping increase frontline support

Naila Mahmood

Naila Mahmood who is in a temporary role as social work assistants within adult care.

Forty students who were already on placements with us have been given jobs as social work assistants in adult care, or as family workers in children and young people's services.

Five of them have now spoken about the early stages of working in such unprecedented times.

Georgia McLachlan was appointed to a family worker role at the beginning of April, within the pre-birth intervention service team. Georgia has been on a placement with the team since December while she completes her studies at Northumbria University, and will be starting a job as a newly qualified social worker in September.

"I have been doing a range of things such as: assessment sessions; life story work; virtual visits online; home visits, while maintaining social distancing; supervised contact in hospitals; and food bank runs.

"I feel like everyone has a level of anxiety about the uncertainty we are living in. Personally, knowing I am helping my team and vulnerable families and children makes it worthwhile."

Fostering and adoption roles

Deborah Cruddace 2020

Deborah Cruddace is now working as part of our fostering and adoption team

Deborah Cruddace has been given a temporary role within our fostering and adoption team, who she has been on placement with while studying at Manchester Metropolitan University.

"I support the carers and children alike, offering a range of none statutory duties such as education support/supervision, from being there to supervise children if a carer needs a break or has an appointment on the other line with another professional, I can be there to keep the children occupied.

"I can be there as a sounding board for the carer, or to just be there to listen and tell them that they are doing OK at a time when they may feel anxious, lost or alone. Reassuring the carers and children that they are not alone, that Durham County Council does have people here to support them during this uncertain time."

Adding to adult care

Anthony Walton, Naila Mahmood and Jane Routledge are performing temporary roles as social work assistants within adult care.

Anthony said: "In terms of being a key worker, I already work for a charity as a support worker and this role is something I really enjoy. Also, many of the staff within the charity have had to self-isolate so not having any symptoms of COVID19 myself, I was able to be a helping hand and pick up more shifts to support the individuals we work with."

Naila added: "I feel fortunate about being a keyworker in the frontline of adult social work, as I am supporting people in these critical times and when they need the most help from services. I'm hoping to be able to use the skills, knowledge and experience I have of adult social care within my new role and support not just the service users but the team as well."

Jane said: "Being a key worker is challenging in the current climate, but the experience I am gaining is wide and varied and I feel fully supported by the team."

Recruiting social workers

Giving temporary roles to students is just one element of our efforts to strengthen its social care front line with additional resources during the coronavirus pandemic. We are currently recruiting social workers, with these advertised at www.northeastjobs.org.uk. We are also able to call on former social workers thanks to Social Work England's Social Work Together campaign.

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, our Cabinet member for children and young people's services, said: "The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented time for all of us and the vulnerable children and adults to whom we provide social care need us now more than ever.

"That is why we have taken various steps to strengthen the frontline support we provide both children and adults and, given the need for immediate support, the social work students who have already excelled on placements with us are the perfect solution in terms of the temporary support they can give our existing teams."

Cllr Lucy Hovvels MBE, Cabinet member for adult and health services, added: "Not only do the students provide support for residents and our staff, they also gain invaluable experience themselves and I'd like to say a huge thank you to them all for their contribution at this difficult time.

"The temporary roles alongside our active recruitment and use of the Social Work Together campaign show how committed we are to providing the strongest possible social care front line for those residents who rely on it."

 

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