Social Workers in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust are celebrating after winning four of the nine awards on offer at the 2015 Annual Social Work Awards.
The Northern Trust won the Children’s Services Team, Adult Services Team, Partnership Team and Overall Winner awards.
The awards are led by the Health and Social Care Board to recognise and reward the efforts of social workers and highlight the positive impact of the profession on individuals, families and communities in Northern Ireland.
Social workers work with people in sensitive and difficult environments to help them make positive changes to their situation.
Marie Roulston, Executive Director of Social Work and Director of Children’s Services for the Northern Trust, said she was delighted for all of the staff nominated for these awards and extended her congratulations to all the winners.
“This was a really good day for the Northern Trust and for social work – so much hard work goes on behind the scenes so it’s tremendous to see the staff recognised for this,” Marie said.
She added: “These awards are an opportunity to promote how social work makes a positive difference to people’s lives and I would like to thank all the staff in the Northern Trust who work so hard to do just that.”
The Northern Trust Sharing the Care team picked up two awards at the ceremony. They were named overall winner and also won the children’s services team award.
Social Workers in the Sharing the Care Team provide short-break services for children with disabilities. The short breaks enhance the quality of children’s lives, offering new opportunities and relationships outside their immediate family circle, promote self-esteem and independence.
Parents and families benefit from spending time together, safe in the knowledge that their child will be well looked after by the right person. Children with disabilities often have complex medical, physical and behavioural needs.
These challenges require the skilful matching, creativity and expertise of the social workers in the team, who work in partnership with families and carers promoting trust and mutual respect.
Sharing the Care is innovative because it provides care for disabled children in their community by their community. The social workers in the team recruit, assess and work with125 carers providing 142 placements each month.
The range of services includes family-based day-care; overnights in the home of an approved short-break carer, and activity-based clubs in a group setting.
One of the parents said: “Meeting my son’s carer was life changing and knowing her has been an amazing experience. She helped me to look past the condition and find what was always there…my son.”
The Northern Trust Physical Health and Disability Services team won the adult services award for bringing service users back into the centre of the care planning and review process, to promote greater choice, independence, empowerment and control.
The team began focusing on the strengths of the service users, simplified the format of care plans and replaced jargon with everyday language.
They developed systems to help service users plan and review their care, allowing them to express what their own needs and strengths were.
Service users began to take ownership of the meetings and the documents, and began to complete the paperwork themselves. They felt confident that they could take part in any decision making processes and as one adult said: “I feel the care plan belongs to me.”
The work of the social workers on the team has had a lot of positive outcomes and is a truly person-centred approach.
The Dementia Friendly Communities scheme won the Partnership Team award.
The scheme in Coleraine brings together Social Workers in the Northern Trust’s mental health services for older people as well as representatives from the Alzheimer’s Society, Coleraine Borough Council and the Public Health Agency.
The aims of the partnership are to raise awareness, challenge misunderstandings and help communities support people with dementia. Social workers have been key in the development of this initiative, with involvement both as practitioners and at a strategic level.
A large number of local businesses in Coleraine have signed up to becoming ‘dementia friendly’. A dementia friendly community is one that supports those living with dementia, their carers and families.
With the right training, local business owners, local government officials and people in the community are helping to make it easier for people with dementia and their carers to get out and about to visit shops, restaurants and public buildings, thus avoiding social isolation.
The scheme has helped service users and their carers feel more involved in their local community, because they feel supported and listened to.
With over 5,000 social workers currently practising in Northern Ireland, 90 social work teams and individuals were nominated for the awards and 24 were shortlisted as finalists.