The writer works as a social worker in an adult social work team


I am going on a course this Thursday on the new
assessment process. Those who have done the course have been positive about it.
However, snippets of the presentation I’ve caught suggest a perfect opportunity
for a game of bullshit bingo. On my card I have “seamless services”, “one-stop
shop” and “holistic approach to the assessment process”. I will be shouting
“house!” before we have finished our coffee and introductions.

A dull day dealing with paperwork, brightened
by a colleague mistakenly asking an occupational therapist for a monkey-wrench
to help her client lift himself into bed.


Go to see a wonderfully eccentric pair of
sisters. I feel I am in the middle of a music hall routine. The younger sister
is telling me about calamities that have befallen her when she is interrupted
by older sister: “Don’t forget that time the window fell on you, Marion.” I
started to suspect I was being wound up when one of the sisters tells me about
the time that she was receiving a massage from a young man and had a “stroke”.


I am due to move up a grade to senior
practitioner, but I am plagued by doubts. I enjoy my job and am comfortable
with the level of responsibility I have. I weigh up the pros and cons. More
money and better prospects of promotion against more responsibility and better
prospects of promotion. I discuss it with my wife. She tells me, in no
uncertain terms, I am going for senior practitioner status. Democracy is
overrated, I feel.


Turn up for my training course and am horrified
to find three team managers attending. I wish I could claim my concern was that
debate may be stifled by the presence of management. However, shallow being
that I am, I was worried we would not get to finish early. My early cynicism is
quickly dispelled. Our trainer makes the point that new assessment forms are
not going to dispel waiting lists or increase budgets. Most of the morning is
given over to discussing the stress and pressure we are under. It is
illuminating to hear managers discussing their frustrations and stress in a way
they would not in another setting.

The afternoon is much more relaxed. Even
despite the (much longer) assessment form the group is positive – we still
finish two hours early.


Budget day. Our manager is due in at 10am. At
9.55 nobody is making phone calls lest they get beaten in the stampede to
harass her with budget requests when she arrives. My strategy is to hang back
until after the first barrage, then present my request in a nonchalant “I am
not that bothered if you approve it or not” style. If I am feeling cheeky I’ll
motion to the other team members and tut and roll my eyes. Well, it beats
falling to my knees and begging. Visit a disgruntled gentleman who, frankly,
has bugger all wrong with him. It becomes clear what kind of interview we are
going to have when he gets out a folder of letters with “COUNCIL BASTARDS”
written in red ink on it. He lists the services he wants one by one and one by
one I tell him he does not meet our criteria. As he gets incensed I sit and
wonder what this man needs and I have no answers. An unsatisfying end to the


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