Adam Slavin describes his job as a social worker for the social services.
What is your role?
As young people with learning disabilities reach the age of 16, we manage their transition from children’s services to adult services. We help them and their families make decisions about where they will live and what support they need.
I do an initial assessment, which usually involves a home visit to meet the client and his or her family. Together we look at the options, for example whether they need residential care or whether they will live in a flat.
A lot of the work I do is assessing whether clients have the capacity for dealing with everyday procedures like holding a tenancy.
All the information goes to a panel of people from health and social care. I have to help the panel understand the young person’s circumstances and needs. We hope that they will agree to fund the services we propose.
What do you like about your job?
As a new social worker, I appreciate working in a really close supportive team. I feel as though I’m able to develop. There’s always someone to ask if I need help.
I get real satisfaction from knowing that I have helped the young person and their family get the support they need.
What’s not so great about it?
Communicating with my clients can be a real challenge. I have to be sure that they understand what I’m asking them. Sometimes it involves quite complex issues for them to understand. To do this, I constantly have to make sure I am communicating effectively.
Sometimes, to get over communication barriers, I use pictures or other ways to communicate with clients.
How did you get to where you are?
I’ve been qualified for a year. I originally went to uni straight from school. This turned out to be a mistake so I left during the first year. I spent a few years doing admin work and car sales. The part of the work I really enjoyed was interacting with people and seeing them go away satisfied.
I started doing voluntary work with adults with learning disabilities and also in a youth club.
I went back to uni in my 20s. On the three-year course I had three work placements. One was with people with mental health issues, one was in a children’s centre and one was with the fostering team. Although the placements varied from seven weeks to four months, I would have liked more practical work, particularly working alongside social workers doing statutory work.
What do you want to do next?
I am hoping to do some more training in communication such as sign language or Makaton (which uses signs and symbols for people who find verbal communication difficult).
Longer-term, I want to broaden my range by working with different client groups.
What advice would you give young people thinking of doing your job in the future?
Do some voluntary work. It’s a good way to test out whether you will like this type of work. As well as getting experience of working with clients, the workers can be helpful too. For instance, I was inspired to go into social work by the leader at the youth club I volunteered with.