This week’s writer is a newly-qualified social worker in a
community care team.
A satisfying start to the week. Not long after I started working
in the team, a client with dementia, who had a history of
“wandering”, went missing from his flat leading me to contact the
police and instigate the relevant procedures within the department.
Whilst he turned up safe and well, he was unable to explain where
he had been or why he had been away for such a lengthy period of
time. Questions were raised over the client’s safety were he to
remain in his own home. The client consequently agreed to a move to
residential care on a trial basis. Today, a review is held to
ascertain whether the placement should be made permanent. The
client likes his new home and the staff are happy with the way
things have gone so far. Everyone agrees – the placement will be
The annual team “away day” and a welcome chance to get out of
the office for a day. The day focuses largely on motivational
interviewing techniques. Working in an area of multiple
deprivation, where alcohol problems are prevalent, the training
proves to be highly relevant and is a resounding success. What was
good to see was how the management team largely took a back seat
thus enabling all staff to contribute equally. I am normally quiet
in larger group settings but made an effort to contribute and
received more constructive feedback as a result.
Much of today is spent visiting clients – not as straightforward
as it sounds as the team has been decamped outside the area it
serves as a result of accommodation problems. The travelling is
beginning to take its toll on a team that is already woefully
Sometimes I find the transition from being a student on
placement to being a qualified worker a real challenge. Today is
one of those days. Each social worker in the team does a day of
duty per week. I generally enjoy the variety of work and crisis
management challenges presented by duty but the travelling involved
means that I have to rush around today and I know my write-ups are
not of the standard I would expect of myself. By the end of the
day, I am feeling low: I never seem to have the time to read and
reflect on my work; I receive supervision once every three weeks
rather than every week; and my case load of around 15 cases over
the course of a placement is expected to double over the coming
months. At times the pace is frightening but luckily I have a
fantastic line manager who is both supportive and honest in her
appraisal of my work.
Today I spend the morning visiting clients, including one who
has had his home care altered without anyone thinking to tell me. I
guess I’m only the care manager. During lunch, I finally manage to
catch up on some reading. Along with my line manager, I have
identified mental health as an area of learning and I am steadily
working my way through some materials when my peace is shattered by
a phone call. It appears that a client with dementia has had her
only set of house keys stolen by some girls she opened the door to.
Calls to the police, relatives, and the housing department follow.
Back to reality!