There’s a concern that social workers in their first year in practice will not have the same access to learning and development opportunities as those that have qualified previously because of the Covid-19 restrictions and because the majority of the workforce are working from home.
Read on if you have any social workers in their first year in practice in your team.
Be mindful of the following issues:
- this cohort is not the same as previous newly qualified social workers – they may have missed out on vital learning and experience opportunities in the second half of their final placement
- they need additional, informal support from the team, such as that which would happen naturally in the office. They also need the opportunity to get to know their colleagues
- they may need an extended induction period, including more opportunity for shadowing and they may not be familiar with the policies, culture, processes and so on
- they need opportunities to experience new things in a safe way, such as chairing a meeting
- processes have changed due to Covid, so make sure you signpost newly qualified social workers to the Public Health Wales - latest information on Covid-19.
Things you can do:
- you should establish daily contact with the newly qualified social worker to make sure they are getting work experience, shadowing opportunities, peer support or focused groups to promote their learning and development. Provide them with a buddy from the team
- make sure you or your senior practitioner/other manager speaks to them every week to check in
- if there’s no mentor in your local authority, then consider increasing supervision to fortnightly for the first few months. Make sure this includes space for reflection and use of theories, or your senior practitioner may be able to complete the reflective supervision. Consider well-being as part of this
- if there’s a mentor, make sure there’s open dialogue so any issues are picked up early and the social worker in their first year in practice’s well-being is supported
- encourage informal chats within your team, whenever possible
- consider having a weekly “practice” chat between the newly qualified social worker and selected team members. Use them as an opportunity to discuss issues or good outcomes that the more experienced workers in the team have faced on their cases and share how they/the team managed them and the process and decision making that led to them
- involving the newly qualified social workers in team meetings is crucial, especially as there will be fewer ‘corridor’ and ‘kitchen’ conversations.
Things to promote throughout your organisation:
- information and resources to guide you through Covid-19 (including wellbeing)
- support from employers – Care First/Employee assistance programme
- training and support for IT (Zoom, Teams and Skype) as not everyone has these skills
- outcome-focussed practice resources.
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