How to help strengthen your social care team

I often think to myself what is the perfect social work team and what does it look like? Whilst I know a lot of this comes down to staffing issues, retention of social workers, budget cuts/ finances and of course senior management decisions and their expectations of us.

Well today I’m using my signs of safety brain here to try and work out what simple things we can do to help some of those struggling teams.

Over the years I have had many different experiences with the local authorities that I have worked in. Fortunately, in hindsight I have been very lucky and now have some amazing friends who I have met along the way.

However, I also have had one particular experience that even now I  still find it hard to speak about. So, I want to use this and draw out what I really think helps to create a strong social work team.

What makes a stronger social care team?

  1. Take time as a team;

    I call the teams I work in my ‘work family’. I know it’s cheesy but if we think about it we spend more time with these people than we actually do sometimes with our own family.  Taking time together is my most important tip for any team. We can break this down into many different areas. The most important to me are;

        • Having a daily break. Yes, okay we don’t always get an hour for our lunch and yes, we always have stuff to do. Think about it, will there ever not be a long list of things to do? Simple NO we won’t. Trust me, I’ve tried. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, getting into this habit is something everyone should do. Sit with the new member of the team, encourage them not to get into this culture. Sit and talk about anything but work even if it’s only for a short while. Encourage the team to join you, invite everyone, there is always something to talk about and you will always find something in common.


        •  Weekly pods/ meetings. This is really important to keep that connection with your teams. It only needs to be an hour a week. Help support those around you, talk about a difficult case or something you are struggling with. It really strengthens any team and will help to bring you together. You can map a case, compete a trajectory plan,  a complicated genogram, talk about a good pieces of work that have completed, discuss some training you have been on or a new piece of research. This is just a few of the many different ways you could use this valuable time with your team.


        • Team away day. You should really have a work day funded by the Council once a year. When I say the Council, this money does usually come from different things e.g. money from having a student and so on. You may need to think outside the box for this one. Yes, the day needs to incorporate some training but it’s still team bonding. Then you can all do something for the rest of the day. Be creative if you need to be it doesn’t need to cost much e.g. create a quiz, treasure hunt, team building exercises and so on. Just enjoy the day together and have some fun.


        • Social events.  It can be difficult to do something altogether and you often get some people that will never show up and don’t want to be involved. It is still important to try. Even if it’s a meal out, takeaway at the office together, it’s still nice to have that sense of community within the team. After all I’m often up for a night out but maybe that’s just me and my team.


    2. How to support your team?

Having a supportive team can make the difference to whether you are a ‘sinking or a floating’ social worker at times. So how can we help each other?

        • Be there to listen. We all have bad days sometimes. If we see a colleague who is upset or feeling down, in a sensitive way let them know you are there for them. They may feel they need a few minutes just to talk and get things off their chest. Or, maybe just knowing you are there and care can make things better.


        • Help each other out. Is someone if having a difficult day. Is there anything you can do to help them? Even if it’s as simple as running across the road for them to make sure they get some lunch. Is that duty phone non-stop? Can you take a few calls to help them catch up? It really can be the little things that make a difference.

        • Be a body guard. When I say this, I don’t mean actually mean ‘be a body guard’. I mean is there something you can do to help your colleague to feel safe and supported? Sometimes we dread having to have certain discussions with people whether they are very aggressive or threatening towards us or have a very lengthy police history which makes us feel uneasy.  Sometimes, all it takes is to have someone with you to make everything a little bit better. I can tell you that if you do this for them, they will be there for you if you ever need them.


        • Stay positive. Even when we are tired, we haven’t eaten, we are really behind and we haven’t done everything or even started what we had hoped for that day. Well, that’s just social work. Just think about what you have achieved? Think about the difference that you are actually making? Go home knowing you are trying your best.


        • Help others to stay positive. Social work is often about negativity, what we’ve done wrong, what we haven’t done and we regularly feeling criticised. There is already enough negativity out there. Take some time to speak to your colleagues about pieces of good work they have done and help them to see this too. We are good at what we do and we should always promote good practice.




These are just a few things that I know can help make a stronger social care team. Let me know if you have any other ideas.

We all know social work is a challenging role but if we can stick together it does makes things better.



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