The task of a social worker is manifold. Social workers help people to adjust to and overcome a wide variety of social and personal problems. They deal with the problems of families, children, the elderly, those with physical and mental disabilities, prisoners, the handicapped etc.
The work is a mixture of counseling, liaison, mediating, monitoring and practical problem solving.
Nature of Work
The major part of the work performed by social workers involves fieldwork. Field social workers work with people who live in their own homes, as opposed to those in residential care.
Social work is very much more complex than simply offering a sympathetic ear and practical help. There is a great deal of legislation, which gives social workers both responsibility and power to act in cases where people are at risk.
Child protection is one such task. Social workers must assess and monitor families at risk of neglecting or abusing their children, visiting them regularly and giving support, keeping an eye on how they handle their children and perhaps referring them to a family center to learn childcare skills and to discuss their problems.
The mentally ill are another group over whom social workers have powers of removal if they become a nuisance or a danger to others or to themselves.
An important task of social workers is to try and prevent problems from getting worse. A social worker's preventive work can take the form of individual counseling and support work with whole families or group work, and bringing people with similar problems together for mutual support.
The day-to-day work of a field social worker is varied. Much time is spent visiting people, listening to their problems, offering support and encouragement and monitoring those at risk. Time is also spent on paper work, keeping detailed case notes, and writing reports. Liaison with other professionals or organizations is very important.
Social workers also work in day centers, adult training centers, adoption and child guidance clinics etc. Others work for the handicapped and impaired.
Major Tasks Performed
MEDICAL AND PSYCHIATRIC
The psychiatric social worker works in a clinical setting. The work involves supplementing medical information with environmental and personal history in a psychiatric setting. The social worker also contributes to the preventive and promotive aspects of health programmes and is trained to work in specialized areas such as child guidance, the handicapped, special schools, family welfare agencies, drug rehabilitation centers and others.
FAMILY AND CHILD WELFARE
Specialists in this field handle specific and complex problems within and outside the family.
URBAN AND RURAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Social workers with this specialization are equipped to work in administrative and field positions in community dev elopement in the agencies operated by government municipalities and national/international voluntary agencies.
CRIMINOLOCY AND CORRECTIONAL ADMINISTRATION
This involves training in correctional work with adults, juvenile offenders in institutions, e.g. prisons, reformatories, remand homes and probation service.
LABOUR WELFARE AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Specialists in this field try to ensure that the workforce in industries is given its due in terms of wages and proper conditions of work.