Darren, Senior Social Work Practitioner

Interview with Darren, a Senior Social Work Practitioner.

Hi Darren, tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Darren and I work as a Senior Social Work Practitioner at St. Richards hospital. My journey to become a Senior Practitioner has been unique.

I have always worked in social care, starting from working in various care homes and completing my NVQs along the way. Despite not doing well in school, I had a strong desire to become a social worker.

I joined WSCC as an Assistant Care Manager after speaking with a social worker, who worked for the county. I was successful and appointed as an ACM in an Acute Mental Health Team.

The support I received from my supervisor and the training team in West Sussex was exceptional. I was encouraged to attend various training courses and eventually sponsored by WSCC to undertake a degree program, which I completed. This has since changed to an apprenticeship program and remains available to WSCC staff.

As a result of my experience, I truly value social work education. I decided to pursue my Practice Education Certificate and I have been fortunate to support students through their placements. I have seen first hand how valuable these apprenticeships are in developing students to become skilled practitioners.

My experience shows that you do not have to be academic to progress within West Sussex. WSCC values development and encourages its staff to undertake training and other learning opportunities. Progression is encouraged as it ultimately improves the services within WSCC to have skilled and experienced social workers coming through its various services.

One of the positive aspects of being a Senior Social Work Practitioner in West Sussex is the peer-to-peer support that is available. Although I am one of two SSWPs within the St. Richard's hospital team, there are other hospital teams within West Sussex and we are in regular contact with one another.

We have regular meetings to discuss any issues we have, to discuss any new work processes, and to share each other's expertise. As Senior Practitioners, we hold regular best practice meetings within the hospital social work teams. All the SSWPs in the hospital teams meet regularly to arrange these and then we facilitate these within our teams on a quarterly basis.

As a Senior Practitioner, other opportunities become available to you, such as developing better leadership skills. I have just been appointed as the CQC lead for hospital services. This means that I will be working directly with senior managers and directors to ensure that the service is as ready as it can be when we get informed that we are due to be inspected.