Case Studies / Activities

Case Study 1 with Activity

Julie is 19 years old and lives in a third floor flat with her daughter Samantha, aged 3. Julie has had contact with social work services for a number of years as she was looked after between the ages of 9 and 13. Although there has been the occasional time when Julie has found it difficult to engage with social work staff, contact has generally gone very well. Julie is a likeable and warm person who has shown remarkable resilience in the face of childhood adversity. In recent years Julie has requested support on a number of occasions to assist with the care of Samantha. These requests have not amounted to any ongoing involvement as Julie was generally looking for some moral support and reassurance; particularly as to whether she was caring for Samantha to a good enough standard. Julie has no contact with Samantha’s father and she has a limited social support network. Julie has presented to her local social work office in a distressed state saying that she owes a ‘loan shark’ money. She alleges that on three different occasions two men have called at her flat and demanded repayment of the money – approximately £150 – and that she now fears for her and Samantha’s safety. Julie requests that the duty social worker does something to help her; specifically she wants a loan from the social work office. She indicates that if no help is forthcoming she is not sure how she can go on and that it would be better for both her and Samantha to be gone for good.

  1. Identify the power that Julie holds within this exchange.
  2. Identify the power that the duty social worker holds within this exchange.
  3. In what aspect(s) might both Julie and the duty social worker be said to be powerless?
  4. How could the duty social worker assist Julie to resolve her current difficulties?

To download commentary on this case study, click here.

Activity 2

  1. To find out more about your resilience consider undertaking the free i-resilience survey at:
    As noted on the site you need to register first; however, the test is useful and the report generated can be informative. These kinds of psychometric tests are becoming routine in many employee recruitment processes so are perhaps a format you have encountered previously or will do so in the future.
    If you undertake the test and receive the report think about what you can take from this to improve your personal and professional resilience.
  2. The Scottish Social Services Council have produced an e-learning resource ‘Making better decisions’. This can be accessed from the link below:
    From this web page you can open the course simulator in your web browser.
    Initially you may choose to look at the ‘Social Worker’ scenarios but it is also worth exploring those presented for ‘Adult Care’ and ‘Child Care’, as all will broaden your understanding of practice issues.
    The instructions for the learning resource are provided and involve you making a series of decisions about the scenario presented. As you progress through each scenario you will eventually reach a reflective activity page. It would be useful to complete the activity as described, but if you choose not to do this you can still access the feedback page by clicking on the statement ‘When you are ready to continue to read the feedback on your decision, click on this link.’
    The activity will provide you with feedback on the decisions you made. This feedback will indicate whether you made the correct or wrong decisions. In either case you should work through the same scenario a number of times choosing different decision combinations. This will enable you to see how the consequences of different decisions play out and enable you to access feedback about different responses.
  3. For an example decision tree see the following reproduced from:  Munro, E. (2008) Effective Child Protection, 2nd ed. London: SAGE, p.68, Tree Diagram.