Social work diary: ‘The mum says I can’t visit because her dog is ill’

Sick dogs, The Only Way is Essex and a child terrified of kids TV character Iggle Piggle are just some of the half-term case dilemmas facing this anonymous social worker.

Dog
Picture credit: Terry Harris/Rex Features

Monday

This week is half-term so I can see children on my caseload at any time. First off I visit a family with an eight-year-old who has soiling problems.

During my visit, dad goes out of the room while I watch a children’s TV programme with the child. The boy says the TV character Iggle Piggle scares him as it’s blue. Small wonder the child is anxious.

Tuesday

A case I dealt with last week returns to haunt me. A teenager and mother have been arguing vehemently. Mother has been frantically calling the police to remove her daughter after their umpteenth argument and fight.

After much persuasion my manager gets funding for the teenager to go to a charity-run housing project. The teenager moves out to a friend’s place until I can get things sorted and peace breaks out.

Later I attend a meeting with the parents in a family I’m working with.

The mother recently came out of a psychiatric unit after a severe psychotic breakdown. Father doesn’t want her back home; he is reviving an emotional relationship from his past and building a new family.

The children are wallowing under layers of confusion and struggle to manage schooling and friendships. One has not attended school for two years and watches TV all day. 

Neither parent can see a way forward and the mother feels that she has lost everything. It is very distressing to witness. 

Wednesday
 
I try to visit the house of a family where the mother has hoarded rooms full of belongings. She and the child are not living there but the plan is that she clears it out before the next child protection conference.

She says I cannot visit today because her dog is ill. I point out that my priority is her child not her dog, to whom I can only give my sympathy. She makes further excuses, so I give up an unequal struggle for now.

Thursday

I get a phone call from a father on a case I worked with a year ago. His son had developmental delay and it was hard to convince him, but mother accepted it and the little boy thrived.

They moved to a coastal town and dad says that the boy is now perfectly normal. Either he’s accepted things or the sea air has worked wonders.

Our computer records lack details of partner agencies, so this afternoon is spent collating information about agencies and individuals that I have amassed. Sometimes it’s like working for MI5 without the glamour.

Friday

The place at the charity housing project for the teenager is available today so I call her and arrange to take her there as my last job of the day. 

When I arrive to take her she says she won’t go unless she can take her TV. She tells me she cannot miss The Only Way is Essex.

I persuade her to talk to staff about it when we get there. TV programmes seem to have ruled people’s lives this week. 

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