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NIASW's December PSW blog

It has been an exciting month at NIASW as we launched our survey, Social Work Not Paperwork – Cutting Bureaucracy in Childcare Social Work. You can read more about this below and on page 06. Many thanks to all who took part in the survey – your views are crucial.

Separately, NIASW was pleased to be part of an event on 29 November to launch a document, Guidance for Media Reporting on Child abuse and Neglect, which is the first of its kind in the UK. The event was jointly hosted by the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, the NSPCC and the National Union of Journalists. It was attended by health minister Edwin Poots MLA, along with Sue Ramsey MLA and Jim Wells MLA, chair and deputy chair of the Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee, respectively. You can see the full document by visiting

NIASW survey 

NIASW is proud to be able to highlight your concerns to policy makers and help the public understand what it’s really like to be a social worker in Northern Ireland. Here’s a summary ...

Going the extra mile: Our report highlights the commitment and passion of social workers. It is evident that you go the extra mile – 76 % of you work more than your contracted hours and, on average, you work 20-60 extra hours a month.  NIASW has recommended employers adopt a caseload weighting system. 

Keen to make a difference: Social workers spend less than a third of their time with clients. Nearly all of you (96%) say the time you spend writing reports stops you seeing clients, while 90% say recording on client files has the same effect, and 73% said entering information onto computers takes up more time than seeing clients. These are shocking findings and we challenge government, the Health and Social Care Board and employers to make changes. 

Tell it like it is: You told us about the pressures on your time to collect statistical data, organise and attend meetings, transport children for contact and deal with crisis. It is clear from these findings that the majority of social workers who respond have limited face-to-face time with clients. 

Value of team work: The importance of good administrative support to aid best practice was highlighted by 34% of you. It is clear from the volume of comments throughout the survey that teams without this are struggling. Respondents also highlighted the need for improved IT equipment to enable workers to be more efficient at recording and to allow for easier sharing of information across disciplines. 

NIASW is not simply calling for more administrative support but for a comprehensive review of the roles undertaken within teams and who currently does them. We want social workers to be engaged in social work tasks for the majority of their time.

Time to build relationships: The majority of respondents reported that relationships are key to social work. Nearly all of you (94%) want more time with clients to ensure you build rapport to effect change. NIASW has made eight recommendations to help you achieve this. Please see the full report on our website.

We have written to the Health and Social Services Committee to request a full hearing on this report and we will continue to challenge, encourage and support the Department, the board and employers to listen to your voices. 

For full details of our survey report, please visit