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Social work diary: ‘I’m in a surreal version of Supermarket Sweep’

Posted on 21/07/2016 by


An adults' social worker finds herself dealing with an office move, an abusive phone call and a supermarket trolley dash for clients in the same week


There have been a series of office moves over the weekend so this morning there is perhaps inevitable chaos and lots of scrambling with crates, phones and IT systems. I’m glad to slip out for a mid-morning visit and it’s my first time meeting this client, who has Huntington’s disease. It seems a positive meeting and arrangements are largely working well.  However, both the client and his wife are well aware of the challenges that lie ahead and I am both saddened and intrigued by this curious and complex condition.

The office quietens down later in the afternoon so I can make some phone calls without too much banging in the background. One involves being on the receiving end of a barrage of quite creative verbal abuse from a very difficult client. I don’t particularly react and later in the evening realise that this is a combination of being able to not take it personally and also, unfortunately, being used to this type of behaviour from this client.

I am on duty today, or rather I’m meant to be, but system changes resulting from the move mean that it takes a while before we can access our record system. There are a lot of referrals and other tasks outstanding so it is a case of head down and ploughing on, but requests are coming in as quickly as they are being cleared which makes it hard to sift through and prioritise those that require an urgent response. I don’t like leaving work undone but have to trust that those following up tomorrow will know that we did our best to get through what we could.

This morning I attend an extra care housing panel meeting to discuss a client where the outcome of a recent reassessment is to consider more supportive accommodation. She is physically fairly well but experiences significant anxiety which has led to concerning behaviours and she would likely benefit from knowing that there is someone in the background as much as direct interaction.

I have been assigned to supervise a new member of staff and arrange for us to meet this afternoon to start to get to know each other before our first formal supervision. I find it helps to clarify initial expectations on the role and also gauge communication and working styles. They have a steep learning curve to come, but they seem proactive and receptive to feedback and I’m feeling positive about supporting their development.

This morning is one of those that I wish I could share fully with friends to give them an insight into the weird and wonderful things we sometimes end up involved in! I find myself doing and then delivering shops for two different clients and precariously balancing bread, beans, bran flakes and a bucket among other items in what feels like a surreal version of the TV show Supermarket Sweep.

I almost topple over on the escalator but thankfully both I and the produce arrive intact and another potential crisis is averted. This is followed by a joint visit with mental health colleagues.  Unfortunately we have different recording systems which has led to duplication of allocation and case work. This is frustrating, but at least it has now come to light and we have identified a non-contentious way to progress the situation and agreed which service will take the lead.

I’m catching up on odds and ends this morning before an afternoon review for a client in an extra care housing scheme. They have a high level of physical health needs and I am so glad that this type of support provision exists, whereas years ago residential care may have been the only option.  They have had a turbulent time recently with periods of illness and hospital admission and they are feeling disheartened. We discuss additional support that might be needed and come up with a plan for the short term at least, which seems to boost their motivation a little.

I have time afterwards to get back to the office, drop off my paperwork and quickly record the visit on the system which I find helps to clear my head at the end of another working week. I tend to have busy weekends and am often out and about seeing lots of different people, but Friday nights are usually my own. Pyjamas and pizza beckon!

Source: Community Care