Social work diary: ‘The looming restructure has left us all in a state of limbo’

An anonymous social worker's reflections on a challenging week...

by an anonymous social worker


I go straight for my first visit. The client isn’t home. I am concerned as his mental health has been deteriorating and I know he has been stockpiling medication in case he decides to overdose.

I ring his mobile. From the ringtone I can tell he is not in the UK. When he answers, he tells me he is abroad and will be back next week. Oh well, I suppose it’s better than him brooding over his stockpiled medication. I worry that I will get into trouble over the cost of the international phone call.


A client rings and hurls abuse at me down the phone. She is homeless and the service has been paying for her to stay in a bed and breakfast. She is sick of having nowhere permanent to live. She tells me I am not helping her and says she is going to leave town and not be seen by services again before hanging up the phone.

I call her back later. She apologises, and explains ‘it’s my hormones’. She is pregnant and unlikely to be able to keep the child due to previous children being neglected. I am not looking forward to managing the fallout from that.


I deliver a presentation to members of another service on complex clients with a diagnosis of personality disorder. There is space for them to reflect on their caseloads, and to think about why their clients behave the way the do. It is a good experience. This collaborative work is one of the more innovative aspects of my current role.

Back in the office, there is an update on the team restructure. This has been pending for over a year, leaving us all in a state of ‘limbo’. A proposal has been drafted, but it has to be approved by senior management, executives and NHS commissioners before anything can go ahead. We’re told it will be months until we hear more.


I’m on duty today. A client in a residential placement has been asked to leave with immediate effect. She has seriously assaulted another service user, among other incidents. She is too vulnerable to be housed in general emergency accommodation, and as it is an out of borough placement, I request the assistance of the host borough.

They refuse to co-operate, meaning not only is she homeless, but she has to move to a completely new borough in order to be housed. I spend the whole day trying to deal with this. Finally an emergency residential placement is found, at a hugely expensive cost. There is no other choice. I take the client there with my colleague before leaving work at 6:30 PM. I’m definitely ready for the weekend!

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One Response to Social work diary: ‘The looming restructure has left us all in a state of limbo’

  1. Mary O'Toole June 4, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    If restructuring is bad for social workers, think about how bad it is when it affects families of vulnerable adults with Learning Disabilities? And it involves loss of trusted staff and familiar places. And if it is not really necessary , if proper consultation took place, and people were really given choice?
    Yet they do not usually, have voices to speak out, and their families are often too preoccupied just coping.
    (NB I have worked in residential care and I am also a sibling of someone with significant learning disabilities and other needs. I can see it from both sides I think.)