"How am I supposed to fit it all in?"
I know the feeling.
An email pops up in the corner of your screen ‘new referral’.
You know what this means. Another assessment.
To you it’s another round of home visits, endless phone calls, and the biggest challenge; finding the time to sit down and actually write the assessment document.
This is without even beginning to consider the humans at the heart of this referral; the children and families that you are going to come into contact with in hope that your assessment might bring them the help and support they need.
If you can connect with the feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach which comes directly from the thought, ‘How am I going to fit this all in?’ then you are in the right place.
I’ll start with my social work honesty. Being organised is not going to reduce your caseload. Getting prepared for an assessment is not going to make your interactions any easier or less challenging. Nothing is going to prevent the difficult conversations from happening.
But being organised might ease some stress. It could support your practice and give you some headspace. I’m not talking about turning you into an excel spreadsheet colour coding robot (honestly!)
I just want to bring you back to basics. Some of you might be doing this already but some of you with instable teams, busy managers and non-stop overwhelm might just need a reminder.
Organisation shows respect for a family
Yes, sometimes your visits need to be unannounced, but unless this is agreed with your manager or under s.47 then you can ‘announce’ your visits. So make a plan. Discussing with a family when you can see them and what for will help reduce their anxiety. Planning your visits in advance shows respect for the fact that they have lives outside your social work assessment and need to know what is happening as well.
Planning supports your work
Once you’ve arranged any visits to home, school or other places in the community, you can clearly book these in your diary and send out letters, emails or texts to families with these details. I know it might feel like yet another task to complete, but doing this gives people notice, and means that you have a clear record of what was planned so that if there are cancellations or changed appointments you can demonstrate what you did.
If everything goes wrong
We’ve all had wonderfully planned visits that we then need to cancel last minute due to managing various different crisis on the team. It’s important to explain to families when you speak to or meet them that you would only ever cancel a visit in certain circumstances and that you would endeavour to give as much notice possible. I know how unpredictable this job is, so I always found booking in morning visits where possible meant they were less likely to be cancelled.
Know what you need
Before you complete an assessment, through your home visits or meetings, make sure you know the information you need. Read through a blank copy of an assessment and make a note of all the areas that you can’t answer. This will trigger you to ask necessary questions to make sure you are not making assumptions about need.
Having an idea of the information you need will support you to complete meaningful home visits and ask questions that matter.
You don’t have to do it alone. It’s ok to ask for help.
When I was a new social worker, I was overwhelmed by assessments.
I felt like I was muddling through, making the best of a high caseload and leaving writing up to the last minute because the actual assessment form was so daunting.
I created my guide to see you through all the challenges that assessment bring.
From getting organised, explaining assessments & genograms, all the way through each domain of the assessment framework, I will literally guide you through.
Accessible online, the example questions and prompts mean you can quickly check in before a home visit if you are in a rush. The guide is structured to support you in critical analysis throughout your assessment.
For October only, you get a bonus masterclass focusing on analysis.
As a student, and then as a new social worker, I bought so many books I didn’t read.
I designed this guide to be different.
I know you will use this daily and refer back to it for the rest of your career.
To get your guide now, click here, follow the link and scroll down to enroll.