Social Work students talk about their experience at Dignity and Respect Awards


Date: 18th May 2017

A Bucks New University Social Work student will show how she took the lead in helping a vulnerable elderly person when she presents to a prestigious awards ceremony.

Melinda Walker, who studies BSc (Hons) Social Work, will speak at the event at The Oculus, Aylesbury, on Friday, which celebrates care workers who ensure respect and wellbeing are at the heart of the care they provide.Picture of Melinda and Rita

Melinda was on placement with the out-of-hours team in the Bucks County Council’s Adult and Social Care Services when she was faced with the sensitive situation.

She said: “We received a call from the daughter of an elderly couple after the husband had had a fall and been taken to hospital and his wife, who he was caring for, was blind, at home alone, and in need of care.

“The daughter was a single mother with children who could not look after her mother so, over a period of time and discussion, I arranged for her mother to be looked after in a care home overnight, as an emergency.

“The most important thing was adopting a people-centred approach and ensuring the elderly lady, who was in her 80s, was safe and secure. I’m pleased I was able to do that and I look forward to presenting on it.”

Melinda will present the example as part of a presentation with fellow student Rita Norman, who studies MSc (Hons) Social Work, on a student’s perspective to approaching the care of patients with dignity and respect

She is set to start work as a newly qualified social worker with Bucks County Council’s adult team and says the experience gained with the out of hours service helped play a part in securing the position.

Placements are arranged by Bucks New University and see students complete 100 hours over six month. Speaking about it, Melinda added: “The placement opportunity has had a direct impact on gaining a job. It is a great way to bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace.”

Rita, originally from Ghana, spent her placement at a secondary school in Northampton, working with two social workers and acting as a link between pupils and the social workers.

She said: “The experience was unique as I had gone into the placement thinking, why would a social worker work in a school? But I was often working one-to-one with six to eight children a day who had problems with neglect, abuse or harm.

“I was helping the students keep safe in the community and at home and, having previously worked in social care for 15 years, including a role as an elderly support worker with dementia patients with BUPA, my range of experience and expertise has widened.

“The course at Bucks New University has helped change my perspective on working in social work, broadening my horizons, and I am excited about what my next challenge will bring.”

Senior Lecturer Jenni Burton, practice lead for Social Work students’ placements, said: “I have been very pleased and impressed by the students’ enthusiasm for participating in this event during their final year of the course, whilst managing their 100-day final year placements and their dissertation research.

“Bucks New University aims to transform lives through applied, practice-based and skills-based learning which best prepares our students for the world of work.

“I am delighted that Melinda and Rita have taken advantage of opportunities to move their careers forward.”


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