People in social care talk about the reality of their role.
Christine Francis is advocate for older people at Thurrock Mind.
Job description: I support people over 65 who are users of mental health services.
Skills/qualifications required: Knowledge of mental health issues that affect older people.
Grade: National joint council salary point five.
What’s your job like? Mind is campaigning for equal treatment for older service users with its Access all ages campaign. I do this on the ground: liaising with service users to find out what support they need. I then advocate in a variety of ways which might include putting an older person’s views to social care and health staff.
I provide information on treatments and consent, legal rights and service policy and promote awareness of service user involvement in care and treatment. Often I will accompany or represent service users at case conferences or mental health tribunals. I will also negotiate with service providers on behalf of service users if requested.
I like working with older people: establishing trust with clients is an essential part of my role. Spending time with each person means a trusting relationship can develop, which is especially important when discussing the options and care needs for that individual.
Older people with mental health issues are vulnerable and frequently lonely and devalued. With the additional problems of communication associated with dementia, I feel privileged to work in a job that helps make sure service users are understood. The best part of the job is the satisfaction I get from service users when their goal is achieved. The worst part of the job is too much paperwork.