Advocacy is one of the most important aspects of a social worker’s role. A professional cannot support their local community or an individual unless they speak up for them and try to affect change.
One of the key factors of advocating successfully for another person is empathy, a quality that all good social workers possess. This allows them to support other people effectively without judging them or their situation. It is especially vital to show empathy for those who feel marginalized, perhaps because they are often judged or stereotyped by society.
Why is advocacy so important?
Advocacy is an essential part of a social worker’s job because it has so many benefits. Clients who feel like they have an ally or someone on their side are likely to work through their problem faster than those who feel sidelined.
Furthermore, clients can learn to be self-advocates and advocate for others if they have been shown what the practice can achieve by a social worker. As a result, good advocacy practices can give clients the tools they need to help themselves and their community in the future.
Here is a look at how social workers advocate for those in their care.
Communicating well with individuals
The ability to listen is a skill that not everyone possesses. Social workers have to gain a deep understanding of their client’s position and their needs if they want to help them express their preferences and make potentially life-changing decisions. Therefore, being an excellent communicator is fundamental. This keeps people who use the service fully engaged with decisions that are made about their lives or their community. Once a social worker has an insight into a person’s views, they can help them to explore the various options available and avoid exerting an influence.
Connecting with organizations
Communication skills are also useful when it comes to collaborating with organizations or government departments. Social workers are often called upon to check that a service is fulfilling its legal requirements and using best practices. If they are found to be lacking, the social worker can report this information to their client and suggest that they challenge a decision or push for a better outcome.
Managing their workload
Social workers bridge the gap between people who need certain services and the agencies that provide them. However, bringing the two together involves plenty of paperwork and navigating through significant levels of bureaucracy. Furthermore, social workers will often need to follow up on their referrals and communications to ensure everything is progressing smoothly.
Actively participating in their community
In the Spalding social worker online program, the focus is largely on social justice. Students are given a local field placement to boost their competency. This gives them the opportunity to engage with a community near their home and be an agent for real change. For social workers in the field, their willingness to carry out volunteer work in the community can be incredibly rewarding. It deepens and enhances their understanding of what local people need and strengthens their role as an advocate.
Treating each case as a person
Case management is one of the key responsibilities of a social worker. It ensures that the work they are carrying out is effective and provides the best possible experience for each client. By staying in touch with individuals and not losing sight of them as an individual, social workers can hasten their access to benefits or services that are crucial to them. Personalized care reflects the social worker’s commitment to having respect for every individual in the system.
Being an educator
Although social workers can assist their clients without providing them with education services, this can be another effective form of advocacy. By nurturing a person who lacks confidence and educating them to the extent that they can help themselves, social workers provide lasting gains to that individual. From guiding clients through complex forms to informing them of the latest welfare reforms and encouraging them to seek out information independently, social workers are excellent advocates.
Continuing their own learning journey
People in many professional careers are dedicated to lifelong learning, and social work is no different. To have access to the most up-to-date resources and be the best advocate possible, many social workers choose to continually research new developments in their field.
Opportunities from government or local groups can emerge at any time, and by staying in the loop, social workers can provide early and meaningful interventions for clients in need.