Monday: I have just arrived back at my office after a week away camping during which I contemplated using the Mental Health Act manual for the camp fire; well, a 940-page book does have its uses. My first task of the day is to read a complaint from a client’s relative about my decision to leave his brother with no money for food while I was away – an amusing claim given the fact that my client tends to favour a more liquid diet. Anyway, I answer it I’m my usual way, an apology and in this case a couple of cans of lager thrown in.
Tuesday: I am a part-time tutor on my local approved social worker course and have just finished marking numerous portfolios from the last (perhaps) generation of trainees under the 1983 Act. I lose the will to live when I read one excerpt from a portfolio stating that he had “sliced a patient under s.2 of the MHA, 1983”. What a novel way of solving the bed shortages: slice every patient up into little pieces, I am thinking of suggesting this to my local mental health trust.
Wednesday: Today I attend my peer group meeting, a highlight for me every month. The discussion about student supervision came up, with a few of my colleagues complaining that they don’t like to be watched in their practice and that their mentally ill clients tended to agree with this stance. I briefly considered whether paranoia was catching and came to the conclusion that maybe the students have had a lucky escape! However, I reiterated the perspective that students can do the one to one work that we struggle to undertake, but gave up when my colleague started to talk about using them to get his lunch. Maybe it’s time for me to try the paranoia approach?
Thursday: I attend an out of area review today for a client with an acquired brain injury. The review was quite straightforward and justified my decision to place him at the unit. On the way back I observe many interesting people on the train journey, none more so than those reading how to overcome your dark days in 10 easy steps or alternatively the Daily Star’s account of the two social work students who are on Big Brother. In my semi-conscious state I found myself drawn to the latter, well a two-hour review is enough mental health (dark days) for any social worker to contend with.
Friday: I attend the exam board and am glad to find that the world of academia is also full of petty squabbles, inflated egos and painstaking discussions about criteria, guidelines and procedures. In the afternoon I take my daughter swimming and find that a change of environment does not always change one’s experiences as I have to contend with competitive parents and the over inflated ego of the swimming coach who seemed to think he was training Olympians. As I leave the pool I realise that social workers can never escape their daytime job!