Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Apply the ‘airline pilot test’

Would you get on an aeroplane if you knew that the pilots were chronically fatigued, were experiencing acute levels of stress and were having sleepless nights?

That what I call the ‘airline pilot test’. You wouldn’t get on an aeroplane with pilots like that because you know that there would be a good chance of them making a fatal mistake, with YOU on board.

Should social workers responsible for protecting children from abuse and neglect be chronically fatigued, experience acute levels of stress and have sleepless nights? Apply the airline pilot test. The answer is NO – somebody might die. Not you or your family or another fare paying passenger – but a helpless child.

Yet it seems local authorities in Britain are constantly failing the airline pilot test. A shocking survey in Community Care reveals that 80% of the social workers responding believed high stress levels were affecting their ability to do their jobs. And we are told that the survey revealed that heavy and complex caseloads, fear of things going wrong and bullying by colleagues and managers are the most common reasons for social worker stress.

Put those findings in the context of relentless increases in the volumes of work over recent years and you have a good understanding of the pressure cooker that is children’s social work in Britain.

You would not tolerate it of an airline. Why tolerate it of a local authority?