Category Archives: A day in the life of

Chris Erskine, Associate Lead Professional for Lincolnshire County Council Adult Care

What is your role, describe a typical day?

I am the Associate Lead Professional for Lincolnshire County Council Adult Care and I’m proud to say I’m a Social Worker having qualified in 2010. My role now is very much about providing a link between front line Adult Care practice and organisational development. On a day to day basis I promote a culture of continuous improvement in the quality of Social Work practice. This can include working with practitioners and colleagues to develop Policy and procedures that shape the way we work.

Why did you choose to do the leadership and mentoring module?

One of the biggest changes I’ve seen as a Social Worker is the Care Act, which I believe is a real opportunity for Social Work to be more than just about assessing needs but supporting people to lead good lives by realising their own strengths/assets and connect with their communities. To achieve this shift I wanted to develop my leadership skills and understand more about organisational culture and how to influence change. I’m passionate about making a difference and to do this I need to be able to influence others both practitioners and senior managers in the organisation. The leadership and mentoring module covered all of the things to help me to achieve this.

Did it give you what you were looking for and if not what was missing? How has the leadership and mentoring module impacted on how you work.  Please give examples.

Yes absolutely, you don’t often get ‘Eureka’ moments where the way you think really shifts, but that happened for me. I understand much more about the culture within the organisation and how to manage and influence change at all levels. Some of the key things I’ve applied in my work are; the need to be clear about the values that underpin changes so that people can see the benefits of change, develop a sense of purpose and showing how the new ways of working are making a positive difference.

The learning and assignments on the module gave me the opportunity to question how and why we do things the way we were and to start a project to develop a ‘lean’ thinking culture within the Adult Care. Ultimately, the hope is that this will free practitioners up to spend more time doing direct work with citizens.

Do you think it will help you if you want to progress in the service?

Yes the module enabled me to reflect on what I did well already in my role and what I needed to do differently moving forward. I’ve developed my leadership style and I am flexible in the approach that I take to help people reach their potential. I’m already seeing benefits through the feedback from my colleagues and managers. Now that I have completed the module the knowledge and skills I have acquired mean that I can apply for more senior management roles developing practice or in organisational development….I’m just waiting for the right role to come along!


A Day in the Life of….

Rebecca McClure – ASYE Hospital Social Work Team – Barnsley

What attracted you to social work

I worked as a nurse auxiliary and loved the listening to and talking with patients, more than the medical side. So I went to University and did a degree in Counselling, however this did not lead to anything when degree finished.  I then decided to go to a Huddersfield University’s open day and it was there I talked to the Social Work department and from that decided to study Social Work.

I qualified in July 2016 and got a temporary contract with Doncaster Royal Infirmary for 8 weeks, but was looking for a full time post so applied for a social work post with Barnsley.  My interview went really, and I really liked the team, so I  accepted my ASYE post here even though Doncaster then offered me a permanent post as well.

What team do you work in?

I started off in the Customer Access Team –  taking referrals from housing, self referral, district officers etc.  Work was very busy and fast, with not much long-term work.  Halfway through my ASYE year restructuring took place and the customer access team was disbanded.  I was allowed  to choose where i wanted to work and chose the hospital team.

My new team is working within the hospital setting with mostly elderly service users.  I found that my previous role as a nursing auxiliary has really helped in this new post as I have a greater understanding of how the hospital works and the different professional roles. Although the work can be high pressured I really  enjoy it.

Both teams have been very supportive and took me out on visits with them until my confidence and knowledge increased.

What support have you had as an ASYE?

I  started my ASYE with weekly supervision with my ASYE supervisor Karen Turner,  as time progressed and I became more confident these supervisions became less frequent though remained regular.  I also have a line manager who is an  Advanced Health Practitioner in the Hospital team, who goes through all my cases with me and I also have a team manager.  Karen has remained my ASYE supervisor through the change of teams.

Karen gave me a list of training, from Barnsley’s core offer,  that she recommended I undertake.  I was able to attend some of these but as I progressed in the ASYE year my caseload got bigger and I found there was less time to undertake all the training.

I have also has been part of a few peer group meetings – facilitated by Cora Beard – which included other ASYEs and students.  These groups consisted of going through each PCF and KSS and then a discussion on how they could evidence each one.  It was really helpful to meet other ASYEs and we were able to discuss our portfolios and help each other.

I also get a day of study leave every 2 weeks and it is during this time I work on my ASYE portfolio.



Katie Pemberton

Advanced Practitioner and Practice Educator

I am employed by Barnsley Metropolitian Borough Council as an Advanced Practitioner working with Children and their families who are subject to a Child In Need Plan, Child Protection Plan, PLO Process or Care Proceedings. Within this role, I visit families and continuously assess whether the needs of the children are being met and to form a professional judgement about whether they are safe or if further steps need to be taken in order to safeguard the child.

The Social Worker role is necessary to support parents or carers with personal difficulties such as mental health, substance misuse, learning disability or experiencing domestic abuse. It also supports parents in affording their children with good enough parenting. Without Social Workers, it is highly likely that children would be placed at continuous risk of harm or experience harm for longer periods with no legal framework being implemented by Social Care.

There is no doubt that being a Social Worker is a physically and emotionally demanding role but it is one which is also rewarding and enables the best interests of the child to be secured. On a typical day I arrive at  the office at 8:30am and print off documents for meetings that I need for that day. At 9am I catch up with my student to ensure she is aware of her diary commitments for the day and to make she sure is aware of what is required for each task. I then attend my first meeting of a day; a core group meeting for 4 child subject to a child protection plan. Following this, I undertake unannounced home visits to families on child in need plan and a child protection plan. I return to the office for lunch and then meet with my student for supervision where we discuss the cases she is co-working and how this links to theory such as child centred practice and solution focussed.

The toughest problem in my role is diary management and meeting deadlines to ensure delay does not occur for children. At times this means being flexible with working hours to achieve all of the deadlines.

The most rewarding part of being a Social Worker is seeing parents making changes; being internally motivated to make change and seeing children’s behaviour and presentation changing and improving. Sometimes this cannot being achieved with parents which leads to children being placed with family members, long term foster care or adoption. It is rewarding to see children thriving in such placements.

The South Yorkshire Teaching partnership has supported my role as a Practice Educator to understand the framework which students are required to meet, understanding the process of placements and procedure when there is a disagreement.

A Day in the Life of….

Lynda Hughes

SYTP Practice Consultant

Why do you think the role of Practice Consultant is necessary as part of SYTP?

My role is a ‘bridge’ between practice and academia, being based part time at the University and part time in Children’s Services.  Some local authority social work employers have felt that some newly qualified social workers entering the service don’t always have a satisfactory level of foundation knowledge and skill and that it would be helpful for there to be closer link between the University and practitioners to bring practice knowledge and skills back into the lecture room. It was also recognised that social workers don’t always practice in an evidence informed way that they learned about at university,  so being able to push this through my link with the university and my involvement with local authority social workers and managers is also beneficial. Being able to see ‘both sides of the same coin’ as a Practice Consultant is really helpful in seeing where the gaps are and where the potential is to improve the quality of what we do.

It has taken a while to have an appreciation of how the university teaches and supports its’ social work students but university staff have been really receptive to our involvement and are looking seriously at how they can tailor parts of their curricula for newly qualified and experienced social workers.  They are also helping us to try to become more research minded in our everyday practice within children’s services. Some of the developments are small scale at the moment but I think everyone is committed to rolling out these developments more widely once we are sure they are going to be helpful.

Describe a typical day…

I’ve found the academic timetable is like the seasons – certain things happen at certain times of the year. There’s a reassuring rhythm to this as you know what you should be doing usually well in advance – very different to social work! September, when the MA Social Work course starts is really frenetic.  I was allocated 4 tutees this year, which has involved seeing them for a set number of sessions each semester. I also meet with them at the start of and mid-way through their social work practice placements. We’re just about to start midway review meetings and I’m really looking forward to hearing from them and their practice educators about what they have been learning and how they are meeting the required standards. University is a lot quieter when students are on placement but it doesn’t mean it’s any less busy. This semester I have been involved in some of the teaching on the Advanced Professional Framework (APF) Child Development course that some of the experienced social workers across the partnership have been attending. With a colleague I’ve also been working on the ASYE Accreditation Module that will enable newly qualified social workers across the partnership to gain university credits for some of the written work they have to do for the ASYE portfolio. I’m also involved in interviews for admission to next year’s MA Social Work programme. I will be supervising some students with their dissertation projects once they return from placement. In the first semester I contributed to several of the MA course modules such as Law and Contexts, Skills and Values and hope to do more of this next academic year.

Toughest problem in the post?

I wouldn’t call it a problem but the cultures and working environments of the local authority and university are quite different so that takes some getting used to. Perhaps because I’m not as embedded at the university – or because my workload in local authority children’s services is always very busy, I have to be careful not to let local authority work encroach into university time. It is something I’ve always tried to be disciplined about  – and it’s getting less painful as time goes on!

What is the most rewarding part of this post?

I have really enjoyed and benefitted from working with the teachers and lecturers at the university and getting a better understanding of their work to inform my own thoughts. I think as a team we are starting to do some useful work on a number of fronts to better marrying the practical and theoretical aspects of the social work and that can only be a good thing for students, social workers and ultimately the children and families we work with.

I enjoyed contributing to a law module  to which I brought a change in case law  which has fundamentally changed the way social workers have to write court reports. We were able to give the students an opportunity to practice this change in court reports.

I am also enjoying acting as a tutor and having the opportunity of visiting them at their placements within the partnership.

Is it going to get more interesting as it goes along?

University is very open and positive with the input myself and Danny Moonman (the adult practice consultant) have had on some individual lecture design.

I am co-delivering the first Child development and Communication module of the Advanced Practitioner Framework and we are ready to change this for the next intake depending on the feedback we get.

I will get a better understanding of teaching, the sociological department and academic year.  Once I can put this in context I will have a deeper level of understanding of where I fit in and where I can contribute.  I will be involved in more teaching and also taking on dissertation students, which will stretch me.