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From social work to case management: Finding my path

By Anna Stangroom, ILS Case Management

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I recall contemplating my future career during my school years, as many do.

Coming from a family deeply entrenched in public services, with members in nursing and midwifery, instilled in me a desire to pursue a profession centred on giving back and caring.

While nursing didn’t resonate, social work intrigued me with its potential for meaningful impact.

I pursued a degree in Social Sciences, which paved the way for my initial foray into healthcare working as a carer within an agency.

My time spent working with both adults and children, in their home settings, ignited my passion and led me to a role as a support worker in a residential school for children with profound disabilities, an experience I cherished.

However, after a year, I felt drawn to transition into Social Work.

This desire led me to write to local authorities, one replied outlining a pilot scheme they were embarking on for a social work assistant.

I was delighted to secure the position, and so I began delving into the demanding and unpredictable realm of children’s safeguarding, where I supported vulnerable children and families.

Juggling work and raising my own family, I explored opportunities in the Children with Disabilities team.

This change allowed me to focus on assessing the needs of children and their parent carers, helping them overcome barriers to inclusion, securing short breaks when needed and ensuring their safety.

As my career evolved, I stepped into management roles, managing Early Help teams, short break fostering teams, and Children with Disabilities teams across different local authorities.

In total, I spent nineteen fulfilling years in children’s social care.

Discovery of Case Management

I chanced upon case management when I saw a job advertisement.

Intrigued by the role, I realised it resonated with my experience as a frontline social worker when I worked in the Children with Disabilities team.

To my surprise and delight, I learned that social workers could also be case managers, alongside occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and nurses.

The idea fascinated me, and my decision to explore this avenue solidified when I discovered that a friend’s mother, who was now retired, had worked as a case manager at ILS Case Management after having previously been a social worker.

She spoke highly of the company and enjoyed her time working there very much.

This was all I needed to take the plunge, and it was during the application and interview process that I had a chance conversation at my daughter’s football match with another parent who happened to be a case manager at ILS.

These coincidences confirmed for me that this was the right decision and fortunately, I was offered the job!

Navigating the Shift

Making the move from social work to case management was not a decision taken lightly.

However, the prospect of positively impacting the lives of children and families holistically while continuing to use my social work skills motivated me to embrace change.

And as it turned out, the skills I’d developed from social work transferred seamlessly to case management.

Assessment writing, goal-oriented writing, chairing multi-professional meetings, and effective communication were just as crucial in my new role.

Advocacy and organisational skills, honed during my time as a manager, also played a vital role.

My personal characteristics, such as approachability, mean that I can put clients at ease when I first meet them.

This paves the way for building a trusting relationship, which is crucial when you are working so closely with a family and their networks.

Additionally, my proactivity has aided my independent working, although there is a strong network of support available to me through my mentor and the Operations team, so I never feel like I’m on my own.

Working as a case manager brings unique advantages.

The opportunity to work with a family over an extended period on a variety of goals ensuring a child’s quality of life, and the flexibility to work remotely while having a support system in place are unmatched benefits.

Making a Difference

Reflecting on my role and how it can positively impact client’s lives, one recent success story comes to mind.

I have been working with a paediatric client who had a brain injury following birth, which resulted in cerebral palsy.

When I first met the family, they lived in a house that did not allow accessibility for my client’s wheelchair, which meant there were areas of the house that couldn’t be accessed, nor was there adequate space for his specialist equipment.

It was not possible to adapt the house. His parents, therefore, had to manage the physical strain of carrying their child around the home.

Through working collaboratively with the parents, housing specialist, occupational therapist and Deputy, the family has been able to move into more suitable accommodation.

Life is already vastly improved for the whole family, and we can now focus on the next set of goals such as recruiting carers to afford the parents some respite.

It will make such a difference to the whole family.

Is Case Management the Right Role for You?

To those contemplating a move to case management, my advice is simple: do it.

The operations managers are always happy to have an informal conversation about the role and its intricacies to help you decide if it’s right for you.

I have embraced the change, leveraged my existing skills, and have discovered a rewarding career that allows me to make a lasting impact on the lives of children and their families.

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