Northern Trust Social Workers come out on top at Regional Awards

Two Northern Trust Social Workers and two Teams have won awards at the Northern Ireland Regional Social Work Awards 2013. The awards recognise and celebrate Social Work Practice and provide an insight into the positive contribution social workers have made to people’s lives. The winners were announced last Friday (20th) and involved a total of 22 social workers or social work team finalists from across Northern Ireland in nine different categories.

Marion Mahaffey won the Adult Services (Individual) Award which recognises the excellent service provided that makes a difference to the lives of individuals, families and communities. Marion has worked as a mental health social worker in the Northern Trust for the past 23 years and for the last five has worked in the Challenging Behaviour Unit at Holywell Hospital. Marion has helped to resettle service users who had resided there for up to 20 years and were described as institutionalised. She led the change required to embrace the recovery approach and create the vision that these individuals could be reintegrated into their communities and experience a greater quality of life – a task viewed by others as impossible. All of the people Marion has supported to be reintegrated remain in their communities with greater freedom, more opportunities and now making life choices.

Louise Pettigrew won the Newly Qualified Social Worker (Individual) Award. Louise works in the Ballycastle Integrated Care Team for Older People proving a quality social work service to the local community, Dalriada Hospital and the population of Rathlin Island. Louise provides a seamless service to the rural community and already has gained vast experience in overcoming challenges in maintaining clients at home who are isolated and vulnerable. The panel also recognised Louise’s skills in assessing clients within hospital to ensure safe discharge home and recognising the importance of continuity of care at home. Louise was described as dedicated and enthusiastic in all her work and a pioneer for ensuring the client’s voice is heard and all work is person centred.

The Mental Health for Older People Team in the Northern Trust won the Partnership (Team) Award. This was for their partnership working with community, voluntary and independent organisations to improve the quality of life and wellbeing for people with dementia and older people with functional mental illness and their carers. Social workers recognised gaps in services, particularly around opportunities for socialising and activities. They were able to influence developments in this area by leading Steering Groups and working in partnerships with services users, carers and agencies to research, plan, seek funding and pilot projects. Service developments due to this partnership working helped 200 service users seek help and prevented 58 unnecessary admissions to care. Service users have reported that the work has reduced social isolation, improved their lives, increased independence and given them greater access to community support.

The Northern Trust also has a longstanding partnership with Extern Multi-Systemic Therapy Team who were announced as overall winners. The award was for their work with Children’s Services who deliver an evidence-based family support model. The Team provides 24/7 support for approximately 30 families annually within the Northern Trust. Key performance indicators for the project are keeping children at home, in school and out of trouble.

Marie Roulston, Executive Director of Social Work and Director of Children’s Services for the Northern Trust, said: “I am delighted for all of those staff nominated for these awards and would like to extend my sincere congratulations to all the winners. This was a really good day for the Northern Trust and for social work – so much hard work goes on behind the scenes so it’s tremendous to see the staff recognised for this. These awards are an opportunity to promote how social work makes a positive difference to people’s lives and I would like to thank all the staff in the Northern Trust who work so hard to do just that.”

The Awards, which are in their third year, showcase some of the most innovative and pioneering work being carried out by social workers across Northern Ireland. A total of 7 nominations were received by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

25th September 2013

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