First, a caveat
I was a social worker in a Family Service Centre from October 2019 to October 2021, and used the SSNET One system then. Some of these suggestions may thus be outdated, and if they are, please suggest some I can improve on.
Oh dear SSNET, could you be faster?
By now, you’re probably bored by the loading figure on your SSNET. And you wonder how you can ever make your life as a social worker easier, especially when you have caseloads to work on, and case notes to upload.
Worse still, you have your SSNET BPSS assessments to clear. And then you see the scary datelines approaching, where you have to upload those assessments, and get approvals by.
What can you do?
Please don’t get me wrong
I’m not here to bash SSNET. Before SSNET, there were only paper files to use.
Yup, and you had to punch holes, write down what you thought, and then file it in.
SSNET draws together the case notes of different agencies like the Family Service Centre, the EIPIC Centre for the child with learning needs, the Social Service Office under MSF, and puts them all together.
It’s definitely more efficient.
But to make things faster for you, here are some ways that could help.
See SSNET as a depository, not a lightning fast search engine
One of the biggest pain-points I saw with my former social work colleagues was when they tried to use SSNET as the single source of truth for their future case plans.
They often struggled with the slow loading times of SSNET, and the tendency of SSNET to crash if it was overloaded (with traffic).
This might work if the system were like Google, delivering information almost instantly. Unfortunately, this isn’t Google.
Its not there to process your queries.
And you would be setting yourself up for failure if you go into SSNET trying to get everything you need on a client.
A better way would probably be to:
- Ask the client for past professionals they have worked with
- If you’re present at multidisciplinary meetings, ask to exchange contacts.
- This is often the most reliable bet as my personal experience was that the doctors or nurses or allied health professionals tended to be consistent with clients with chronic conditions.
- If they have been involved with the Social Service Office (SSO) for a long time, it might help for you to go with them for the meeting with the SSO Officer to understand more about the history of interventions with the client.
- However here, my experience was that the SSO officers often changed regularly, resulting in a lack of complete understanding, and a loss in institutional understanding of the client. It might work better for you to go to the multidisciplinary professionals, such as those at the hospital.
Think of SSNET as a repository where you, the social worker, needs to:
- Know who the other professionals involved are
- For example, you can check the session histories to see if other professionals are involved, and contact them for further information.
- Store information on session dates
- Keep track of what other professionals involved on the case are doing
- Plan what’s next
Process your case notes in Microsoft Word or Google Docs
Using Microsoft Word will make your work infinitely easier. For one, you can keep track of all your case notes for a particular client.
Secondly, these word processors help you to spell check, and auto-correct (meaning that you don’t have to go back to the word and manually correct it, saving even more time), allowing you to reduce the amount of post-editing on the case note.
But some of you may say,
Isn’t this double work where I have to write in Microsoft Word, and then post on SSNET?
Nope. It’s not.
It actually saves you more time, because when you need to refer back to previous case notes, you don’t have to spend more time on SSNET waiting for the case notes to load.
And you definitely don’t want to be caught during the times where SSNET crashes.
Use Headings to classify your case notes
One of the worst things is trying to find your previous case notes for a client.
One way I find useful is to apply the Heading style to them, under Microsoft Word, so that you can easily find it in the navigation pane.
For example, if you click ‘View’ and then Navigation Pane, you will then see the name listed.
This is the format that I used for all my case notes, which gave a clear structure to copy and paste.
Classify case notes according to month
I grouped my case notes month by month, as I found it the most helpful way to keep the case notes detailed, and yet fast enough to load.
At the Family Service Centre, there is also a longer term contact with the clients, compared to other service types such as early intervention, or elderly centres.
Use SSNET before 9am or after 6pm, or on weekends, during the most unproductive times (like afternoon lunch coma times)
I know, I know, this probably isn’t the best advice.
But as a web development agency, we know that the length of your loading times increases during peak periods.
What I experienced was that slow loading times (more than 2 seconds between pages) happened frequently, between:
- 9 to 11am on weekdays
- 2 to 5pm on weekdays
It might make more sense for you to use SSNET during times when there’s a lower amount of traffic.
How do you get around the idea of working too much?
Hush. But one way I got around it was to use the days I spent working at home working on my own things, and then using the time on weekends to work on social work.
I know, I know. Please don’t report me.
But we know that in social work, it can be hard to ask for off in lieu for doing administrative work.
But we want to make sure that our time is best spent. Times spent looking at the loading bar, is (for me), not time well spent.
Just try it. You might be surprised by how much faster it loads on a weekend.
Do your home visits and case notes during work hours
As the previous tip shares, you want to make sure that the bulk of your time is optimised on getting the work done, rather than waiting for a site to load.
This means that spending more time on home visits, assessments and case notes during those working hours can make your time more worthwhile.
Batch upload your case notes and assessments to SSNET weekly
Yup, you didn’t read that wrong.
I did everything on Word, before uploading. I found this was much faster than working off the slow interface with SSNET.
I would do the BPSS assessments and case notes on Word, before uploading them.
It also makes it more efficient to copy and paste what you’ve written, rather than trying to use the SSNET system to write.
SSNET will constantly pop up a reminder every 10 minutes to remind you that you haven’t saved your work, which can be very distracting.
ChatGPT for theories
Right, we’ve heard of ChatGPT and the force of nature it now is.
It can also be used to suggest theories to base your work on. You might be lost at what kind of theories to add meat to your case assumptions, beyond the ‘relationship-based approach’.
Okay, maybe that’s not you.
I sucked at theory.
ChatGPT is a life saver.
Just don’t expect it to write out the case notes for you.
SSNET is fast, if you use it at the right time
Take no credit away from SSNET. It’s brought a new age to social services and added a glossy veneer to what social work looks like today.
But as social workers, we do know that the reporting requirements for SSNET, and the time taken for the approval of BPSS assessments can make the need for speed on SSNET tricky.
Use these tips.
And if you’ve others, let us know.