Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Keep your records up to date

There is a general expectation that professionals should keep a record of their work. Such records can often be assigned a secondary role and dismissed as relatively unimportant – just the ‘paperwork’. Although this is understandable, we also have to bear in mind that record keeping is a form of professional communication – the absence of which can at times be potentially disastrous. What can easily happen is that a vicious circle can develop: record keeping is put off so that, by the time the professional concerned gets round to getting records up to date, there is an annoying and energy-sapping backlog. Dealing with a backlog of ‘boring records’ can demotivate us and make it even harder to keep up. What also contributes to the vicious circle is that the bigger the gap between the work being undertaken and the record of it being made, the harder it is to remember the details of what happened and the greater the risk of inaccuracies and mistakes (and the longer it takes to do the records if we are racking our brains trying to remember the details). So, all in all, there is much to be gained from developing a system and pattern of work that enables us to keep our records up to date and to avoid the problems that can ensue if we don’t.

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The Professional Social Worker: An essential text for all social workers

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