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Chim Nkhoma

Job title: Experienced Social Worker

Area of work: Adult Community Health and SCT - Seaton

My name is Chim, I’m a Social Worker in the Adults Community Team in East Devon.

When did you start at Devon County Council (DCC)?

I started as a Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) in February 2020, and I completed my Assisted and Supported Year in Employment in February 2021. Prior to that I was a Student Social Worker for two years in Hertfordshire and used to live in Essex. After my studies in August 2019, I tried to apply for a NQSW job but all adverts I could come across were only for Experienced Social Workers.

What made you choose to work for Devon County Council?

So, in September 2019 I came across an advert by DCC on the BASW website looking for NQSW’s who’d start the ASYE training in February 2020. I had made it a point that I would not look for a Social Worker job if the employer would not have me enrol on the ASYE programme. So, when I saw this advert I submitted an application with no hesitation, and that was it! I was invited for an interview and within a few days I was offered the job.

I had already made up my mind, when I was invited to attend the interview, that I would relocate to Devon if offered the job.

Did you relocate to Devon to start this role? How was the relocation process for you?

The team I was joining were all very supportive with my relocation process. I remember being contacted by the Team Manager before I relocated, whom I didn’t know, and she provided me with more information about the area and about the job. Before relocating, my family and I drove down to view the property we would rent and to see the area.

As soon as we arrived and saw that we would be living by the seafront, I said ‘I am here to stay!’. So, I waited for my children to close school and we relocated to Devon on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was spent in our new home, in beautiful Devon. There was no problem at all with the relocation process, my colleagues were very supportive in helping me settle in my work and also in the area.

Can you give an overview of your role?

When I joined Devon County Council, I never had any relevant experience, apart from my university placement. So, to me it was very crucial to enrol on the ASYE programme as soon as I started working. Which I successfully completed in Feb 2021. After that I was promoted to Experienced Social Worker.

I’m responsible for carrying out Care Act and Mental Capacity Assessments and reviews, together with individuals who are in need of social care support. This involves gathering information from service users, informal networks and other agencies, to analyse and evaluate information so that I am able to produce a holistic care plan. In this way, I am responsible for safeguarding individuals who may be at risk.

My role involves working with other professionals as well, within my team, from the wider service areas, and also external partner agencies. By working together, we ensure an integrated approach in supporting individuals. So, I convene multi disciplinary’s, safeguarding and best interest meetings to safeguard and promote the welfare of individuals at risk. I also provide shadowing opportunities for Social Work Students who might be placed within my team, and I provide relevant feedback to their Practice Educator.

How have you progressed in your role?

As my career has progressed, I’ve been able to manage complex cases. I’m now involved in safeguarding enquiries, continuing health care assessments, which initially seemed too complex to me. The support of my manager, my colleagues and other professionals has really enhanced my confidence, working with individuals with different social care needs. I always make sure to attend different trainings that enhance and refresh my knowledge and my skills.

What support did you receive when you joined DCC?

I have regular supervisions with my manager where we discuss cases. I’m also able to reflect on my practice. This is a very crucial time for me. It’s the time to focus on me as an individual, as an employee, and on my practice. To be graded accordingly. Each time I come out of supervision I really feel recharged to keep on in my job.

Additionally, my team is fairly small. This has helped me to always have the support of my colleagues who are more experienced than myself.

What’s your favourite part of what you do?

Nothing gives me more satisfaction in my job than working together with an individual. Using a strength-based approach to identify social care needs. Discussing how those needs can be addressed. Seeing the individuals safe and happy because their needs are met. I’m always satisfied to be a part of that process.

What benefits do you enjoy?

In DCC I enjoy flexible working, as it gives me an opportunity to plan my job around my children. DCC gives a relocation package, which I had the opportunity to receive when I relocated. I also like the generous pension that DCC contributes.

What do you enjoy about living and working in Devon?

Living and working in Devon is like living the dream! I live by the seafront where there is a beautiful beach. I have never lived anywhere near the sea until I came to Devon. After a challenging day at work, I can go for a walk at the beach with my family. Which has been like being on a holiday. The scenery itself is therapy.

This is my third year working and living in Devon. I’ve seen that my family and I have never been so close and happy than we are now. My children keep saying that every day is like a holiday. We are still exploring beautiful Devon and don’t have any other plans to move.


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