Social work diary: ‘I reflect on the nature of the personal versus the professional’

A community wedding, a safeguarding concern and a positive outcome from a decision support tool meeting add up to a reflective week for this hospice social worker

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Monday

I am excited to head in this morning. A wedding I have helped organise is happening in the community. I head in to work, pick up the cake and deliver it to the reception, then head over to the church to help with decorations. The vicar is having difficulties with the music, so I stay and help with it.

Events such as this remind me why I do the work I do. It has brought lots of teams together, from the fundraising team organising a car, to a consultant providing a bouquet. I start the week buoyed.

Tuesday

Today I am in meetings most of the day.

I steel myself for the day ahead. First I meet with our local carers organisations to see how we can work together to improve the service we provide to carers we support. It’s a productive meeting and I enjoy the chance to show them round our building and share the work we do with such a wide section of our community.

In the afternoon I’m looking at new IT care management systems. I provide my contribution from a social work perspective and with experience of working with a variety of systems. We have developed our requirements, but with so many professionals having different requests it shows this will be difficult to find something everyone thinks is suitable.

Wednesday

I start the day with a community multi-disciplinary meeting. This is a great chance to best coordinate the work we are doing with patients and their families.

I listen out for clues that my involvement might be needed, point my colleagues to alternative local support, or prompt with questions regarding mental capacity, safeguarding or care and support needs.

This afternoon I am visiting a couple at home. It is a complex situation. The husband is our patient, both have long standing mental health concerns and there are serious concerns about self-neglect. When I visit it is clear the situation has deteriorated further to the point that I raise a safeguarding concern. The hospice has been the only service involved with the couple.

At times like these it can be more difficult to be a lone social worker, without social work colleagues to discuss cases.

Thursday

Our monthly Schwartz round is held today and I am facilitating with a colleague.

It is a lot of work to organise these rounds each month, but I cherish the opportunity for colleagues to share their experiences and reflect on how our work impacts us as individuals. Today the topic is ‘a patient I’ll never forget’. All four stories are moving and I see clearly how our work touches my colleagues whether clinical or non-clinical. The round is a cathartic experience and I reflect on the nature of the personal versus the professional.

Friday

I attend a decision support tool meeting this morning for a continuing healthcare application for a patient with motor neurone disease. The patient has been trying to get CHC funding since the start of the year.

I feel a bit as if I am going into battle; armed with my reports, notes from my medical colleagues and legal knowledge. The nurse assessor is experienced in neurological conditions, and I deflate slightly feeling as if some of the battle is already won. But we end with a positive recommendation which we all agree on. I feel emotional at the result as this has felt like such a struggle, but it should not be.

I reflect on the CHC process and how it can vary depending on diagnosis. I go home happy in the knowledge that I was successfully able to advocate for the individual at the heart of this process.

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