May 12

Bad social worker… what to do?

16  comments

We all want productive social workers. But when you have a bad social worker, what do you do? Some of us might have had the unpleasant experience of working with a social worker who doesn’t seem up to the task. No social worker is perfect. All of us have strengths and weaknesses.

During my placement, I remember that a client was extremely upset with me. She did not understand why things were taking so long.

Even though I had explained to her that the administrative aspect of things was not something that I could control, she demanded to speak to my manager.

Eventually, my manager changed another social worker for her.

Today, I wanted to look at what you can do when you encounter a bad social worker.

What do you do with a bad social worker?

Be honest with your social worker

It helps to be honest with your social worker. One quality of good social workers is to be thick-skinned, and to take on your feedback.

But, your social worker will not know what’s wrong unless you tell them. Sometimes, things are out of their control. What you must realise is that social workers are just a small cog in the whole machine of social services.

Whilst I am not excusing bad social work, what might be an unacceptable waiting time for you might sometimes be something that social workers have grown to accept.

They might not know that though.

bad social worker what to do
You might want to retrench your social worker. But hold on. Try this.

Therefore, be honest with them.

https://www.ted.com/talks/tamekia_mizladi_smith_how_to_train_employees_to_have_difficult_conversations
A brilliant talk on how to have difficult conversations.

Take 3 deep breaths.

Before you shout or scold your social worker, take a deep breath.

This calms you down, and ensures that you are clear about what you want to say. Often, we end up becoming so angry that we say things that we do not mean.

Arrange a time to chat with your social worker.

bad social worker what to do
You might be trying to figure out what your social worker is trying to do

For a serious conversation about your feelings, and your expectations, it helps to choose a good time, a good place, and a good agenda. It makes the conversation conducive.

If you have a serious conversation whilst your baby is running around, it makes it hard for you to focus on what you want to say to your social worker.

It helps to call your social worker and arrange a face to face meeting. Then, during the meeting, state your agenda. For example,

Hi Greta, thanks for coming down. I wanted to talk about the difficulties in working with you today.

Speak to their supervisor.

Depending on the outcomes of your conversation with your social worker, you can tell him/her clearly that you would like to speak to their manager.

Ask for the direct extension to the manager.

Normally, a social worker would not refuse this.

Based on my experience working in the UK and Singapore, they also cannot deny you this.

Sometimes, the social worker may be facing difficulties getting support from overworked supervisors.

Make a direct call to their organisation.

If your social worker drags out the conversation by hemming and hawing about giving you their manager’s number, state that you would call their organisation. You can say,

I don’t think this is working out. (Rather than saying ‘I think you’re bad’, which may put the social worker on the defensive.)

I would like to speak to your supervisor who might be better able to help me. I am also trying to help you. I know this is not an easy thing to do, and I would like to help you get more support from your supervisor too.

Continue to find social support.

In the midst of changing your social worker, dealing with your problems can be stressful. Enlist a trusted friend to talk to. Ideally, your friend should be someone who simply listens, rather than someone who tries advising you on what you should do. Get your frustrations off your chest. Don’t keep it within.

Write.

If you cannot find someone to help you, write it out. Writing is cathartic because it allows your emotions to flow through your pen. It’s a form of emotional first-aid. It releases your complex emotions, giving form and structure to it. Rather than it becoming a mess in your head, it becomes clearer when you write. Try using these two prompts, as suggested by The Troop in Chimp Management:

  1. Firstly, what’s the problem?
  2. Secondly, what’s the factual information?
  3. Lastly, what’s my plan?

I hope the above tips do help in knowing what to do when you face a bad social worker.

I might not understand how difficult it is for you to deal with your problems, and a social worker that might be part of the problem.

But I hope you do know that wherever you are, there are people who you can reach out to.


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  • I have been given a green social worker. All she does is lie to us. I’m furious. I want legal papers written on her. Now I can’t see my grandson because he don’t want to visit
    It’s insane .
    I have typed text from her lying
    to me.. some body lead me in the right direction please

  • I have a caseworker that won’t listen I have done all of these and she doesnt care I don’t know what else to do ,she doesn’t want to get her supervisor involved . she put my kids in a foster home thats 2 hours away from and I can’t do that plus my transmission makes odd noises and I explained that I can’t go that far. She wants me to change work shifts which I can’t do . she’s being unethical I don’t know what to do.

    • Hi Desiree,
      thanks for sharing your challenge. Sometimes rightly or wrongly, they are just worried. Perhaps it might help for you to ask, “What will help you to feel confident of my ability to parent? How can I help you to feel more assured of my parenting abilities?” Hope this helps!

  • My name is Laquita Jackson my worker Mrs Hurst cut my snap benefits off she ask me to send her some documents and I sent her everything she ask for and she told me that she had received it and she still cut my snap benefits off for nothing she don’t know what she is doing my working day is tomorrow and I can’t get my benefits because she messed up everything

  • I’ve been a carer for my friend now for 5 nearly 6 years she’s she got bipolar and severe depression and I’ve been looking after her for the last six years making sure she takes her medication all while doing everything she needed taking care of it when she falls over cause she’s got Parkinson disease and now some person has moved in who is not doing any of this for a she’s not been taking Medication I think she’s had a psychotic break I know cause I’ve been reading about it and I know her because I’ve known past six years and the person I rang wasn’t interested at all I’m only trying to care for my friend and care for her as well

  • We are in Kentucky. My grandson was living with me. When he visits in our town with sister and father he runs around and got in trouble. He’s 15 now . Instead of helping get him back in school and staying on the farm with me our worker took him away and put him in foster care. Ok, but it seems to me every time we get him doing good, she shoots him back down. I don’t understand that. I encourage him and she for no reason tries to keep him down. When I try to talk to her we end up arguing. What should I do?

  • I have tried my very best to help my Sister who has learnings difficulties.I have also tried to speak to the manager,No luck.I am her care since she was 14yrs old.She is 69yrs old & has health issues.I am 73yrs old & I & my sister no longer wish the present social worker to continue with my Sister care arrangements.

  • Was met with “,you haven,t got a social worker, your children have” so although the S worker is arrogant and abrupt, also inept with an emotional detachment and lack of empathy (essential perhaps for that poundshop profession),one could think he may have a personality disorder , guess we are just stuck with him,

  • Feb.7,2024 Waited more that 3 hrs still hasn’t been called seemed everyone have been seen except my son my son approached an employee and asked when will be called so she did answered that it’s normal to see a case worker more than 2 hrs but when she went around and finally asked my son his name and last name she rudely said yup left got on her radio slowly said mockly my sons last name and said out loud unbelievable I really don’t know how and who gets call first waiting is one thing but dealing with an employee who is loud and unprofessional pls help

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