How Does Paperwork Affect a Social Care Worker’s Ability to Do Their Job?
Article written by Dana Christopher
Intended solely for sekoia-care.co.uk
Every field, whether in the public or private sector, deals with documentation. Administrative protocols such as filling out paperwork ensure minimal risks and protects against potential lawsuits and complaints. Social care is no exception.
However, our 'Excessive Paperwork is a Double Burden for Care Homes' article argued how excessive paperwork can be counterproductive to the true purpose of social care, which is to provide practical assistance for people in need. It is true: Too much paperwork can affect a social care worker's ability to do their job in more ways than one.
Too much paperwork = too little social care
Administrative tasks such as completing forms is part and parcel of social care. It’s how professionals ‘get to know’ every person in need and build files on each client. But when a trained professional is overworked with mountains of documents to finish, it takes away from their time to provide meaningful social care. It is time-consuming and, often, frustrating for people who went into the industry to help other people out.
In an article for The Guardian, social care worker Matt Bee shared that his occupation calls for 'kind, sensitive, caring and compassionate' individuals. However, he admits that social care workers are often too busy or drowning in paperwork that they skip the friendly chat and get right down to business when meeting with clients. And business means taking out forms and asking tedious and often very personal questions from the person they're interviewing.
This is certainly not an ideal set-up for both the social worker and the client. In a seminar, foster care worker Ruth Ibegbuna pointed out how forms make social care seem transactional and prevent workers from establishing real bonds with their clients. Clients who are asking for assistance want to feel comfortable, given that this person might be helping them with personal care tasks such as bathing. However, being bombarded with a million embarrassing questions by a complete stranger is not a great way to build rapport. It makes social care impersonal and makes the workers seem distant and cold.
Social care workers are not to blame
Social care workers are not to blame, however. They are, after all, just doing their jobs. This is why digital care planning is a much-needed solution. Verizon Connect explains that technological solutions to traditional paperwork ensure that employees can focus on more business-critical tasks, which, for social care, means connecting with each client on a personal level. However, the amount of documentation required in the field of social care is staggering and there’s a lot of pressure to complete each form perfectly. The pressure can translate to stress and, eventually, to employee burnout, which manifests in the way they handle clients.
It’s no secret that social care is not a lucrative field. That’s why people who study to become social care providers are in it for the service. They want to help other people live their lives with a little bit more ease and comfort, which makes it a truly noble profession. However, the heavy documentation can cause burnout and cause social care workers to miss their shifts, treat their clients poorly, or even switch careers.
Britain is expected to face a shortage of 350,000 workers in social care within the next decade, which means the industry can't afford to lose any more of its workforce. Aside from removing the burden of paperwork, increasing pay is one other step the industry can take to address the workforce crisis. By doing this, it will ensure that quality care is provided to the members of society who are in need of assistance.