How digital technology can improve social work - a young person’s perspective

Featured article - 10 September 2019
By Jordan Wosik Modern Apprentice, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust

How digital technology can improve social work - a young person’s perspective

As a care leaver, I know that young people in care need their social worker to be concerned with them and their lives - not with paperwork. Digital technology can really help with that and as a member of the Digital Capabilities for Social Workers Advisory Group, I want social workers and service users to share examples of how they are using digital tech to improve practice.

In this day and age we can shop online, vote, book holidays, book cabs, take out bank loans and even mortgages and order food. But contacting your social worker digitally can still be really difficult. Instead we have to take out time out of our day – including travel time - to go see the social worker which is hard when you have a full-time job or in full time school. The current arrangement makes service users feel like their time doesn’t matter. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

An opportunity to co-produce

For example, in Doncaster we are using an online tool called Leaving Well. Instead of constantly attending meetings, young people and their social workers, can have ‘two-minute drop ins’ where the young person says this is working, or this needs sorting. They can set each other to-do lists – and if the social worker doesn’t complete the tasks on time, it’s flagged up to managers. It really gives young people an opportunity to co-produce their care pathway with their social worker.

But it’s not all about specialist tech. Existing social media like Facebook can promote courses and services for young people. And sometimes it’s just about the social worker’s own knowledge and confidence. When I was leaving care, at first I was told that my only options were to live in a Foyer or YMCA hostel. But a student social worker did some online research and found a charity that provided local housing – and I’ve been living independently with them for almost a year. It’s amazing that such a little thing - like knowing how to do an online search – can make such a massive difference.

So please, share your examples of how you are using digital technology, data or telecare to improve adults, or children’s social work practice.

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