Diary – A lighter take on the working week

I’m working on a project, identifying ways of “finding more innovative ways of providing care”. In other words, cutting care packages. I meet the rest of the team, which is made up of practitioners from across the authority. We all have new desks, new phones and a plentiful supply of tea and coffee from catering. We even have a new door sign. This is obviously big stuff. My first case is to see a man with multiple disabilities who has a large care package. He has a supportive carer and is anxious that I don’t “muck things up”. Nice to know social workers have such a positive reputation.

We meet with a systems manager who bombards us with talk of targets and money. We all nod nicely, eat the free biscuits, and then compare notes afterwards. I spend the afternoon anxiously completing my GSCC re-registration document, trying hard to fill in three years of training. Helpful colleagues ask if I kept my old diaries (no) and whether I kept a list of training (no). I then remember, with delight, that I was off on maternity leave for some of the time, and add this to my form.

A dull team meeting. We talk about cases, complain about IT support and ask again about getting a new kettle for the kitchen. A manager comes to talk at us about direct payments and to tell us we’re “down on our targets”. A rather heated debate ensues, and I eagerly slope off early for a home visit. This service user is severely disabled and has a fantastic social life attending concerts, following his favourite football team and going to parties. I feel rather foolish asking who heats up his lunch every day when he manages so well.

I attend a sensory awareness training day. The trainer is engaging, well-informed and makes the day amusing. It’s an opportunity to meet other council employees, and think about something else other than casework and targets. On my way out, I meet a former colleague who tells me that a long-standing service user has died. It really upsets me, and I leave work feeling quite subdued.

A day in the office typing up assessments. During a lull in the typing, we all start talking about alternative careers, such as being pole dancers and up-market escorts, and we discuss how much one might earn. We agree that most of us are a bit too old for pole dancing and that a lottery win is our only escape.

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