Prisons Senior Practitioner Social Worker

A Day In The Life Of...

A Prisons Senior Practitioner Social Worker

My name is Trish, and I have worked in Adult Social Care since qualifying in 2003 as a generic field Social Worker. I completed my PQ award in 2011 at Birmingham University and am a qualified BIA for the Derbyshire DoLS Team. In 2015 I started by current post as a Senior Practitioner Social Worker for Prisons, I cover HMP Foston Hall (Female closed prison - all categories) and HMP Sudbury (Male - category D) undertaking all of the ASC requirements on behalf of the LA.

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My daily routine

Every day I start my day by checking my emails and my phone, I often have to do this at home as I can’t take my mobile into the prison, and the internet in the prison often goes down (just a little unreliable). I work two days in HMP Foston and one day in HMP Sudbury, I then arrange any additional work around these set days. At the end of each week I do a ‘to do’ list this helps me organise myself, I also update my electronic diary for the following week. I try to keep one full day a week for admin tasks, but try to keep on top of my case notes each day, recording for about one hour at the end of the day if I’m able. While in the prison I will undertake assessments and review cases, I carry keys as this means I can see my service users in their living environment, or in places around the prison which may be more comfortable or private. I attend Safer Custody meetings, arrange reviews, and if needed will act as the Appropriate Adult for my service users if they are receiving in prison judgments by the governor.

What sorts of issues do I have to deal with?

My job is very diverse, I deal with everything that generic Social Work can entail, equipment provision, signposting, social care eligibility assessments, MCA, Safeguarding, funding social care packages, BIA DoLS. A significant amount of my work links to section 76 of The Care Act, and criminal Justice legislation, as my case load is only people who are currently in prison, and much of it will involve linking with community services to ensure social care needs are met on release.

I have a line manager and an admin team, I should also have a Social Worker alongside me but this is currently a vacant post so I am on my own. I work closely with the prison mental health team and prison health care, often sitting in their offices when I am in the prison, on none prison days I locate myself with the Central AMHP Team.

What would I say to someone considering Adult Social Work as a profession?

I have always loved being a Social Worker and never regretted my career choice, I love the diversity of my role and the people I meet and support. I enjoy problem solving and feel most proud when I have enabled someone to move forward and develop their own solutions. Frontline social work with adults is diverse and challenging, it offers career pathways such as Prison Social Work, Depravation of Liberty Safeguards, Approved Mental Health Practitioner, Best Interests Assessor, Safeguarding, Transitions, and Mental Health Social Work. Often these roles are attached to a generic field work post, meaning that your case load can be varied, giving you a wide skill set. 

As your confidence develops the opportunity to share your skills and knowledge means that as you grow, your team’s knowledge and skills grow too. The key to good social work practice is collaboration, with your service users and your colleagues, in health, probation, and social care. You don’t work alone, and decision making is alongside the support of the professionals you work with and equally support. Go into this profession with an open mind, nether forget the Social Work Ethics and Values you signed up to as a student, they will be the bench mark for good practice throughout your career.

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