“The case is closed” is a sentence that reminds me – and I occasionally do need a prompt – why I became a social worker.
Last week, I had my last meeting with a woman who came to me at the beginning of the year with a sackful of troubles. Now, after support and meetings/rows with other parts of the council, charities and the benefits agency (oh, how I long to keep one of their advisers hanging on a telephone for hours), she is feeling ready for the world again.
In the days before computers “The case is closed” would entail collating all the paper work, writing a final covering note, tying up the manilla folder with ribbon and taking it to the records department. Now it’s signed off with a click of a mouse – yet the feeling of “I have helped someone’s life” is still the same.
Most clients you can sign off but keep in touch with, others need regular check ups. Some you can let go completely and years later, when you’re doing your weekly shopping, you wonder where they are – and then meet them at a frozen food counter.
You hear of the tragedies – a friend of a friend who closed on a family and then something awful happened – so you can never escape the gnawing doubts.
Once the case is out my hands, I tidy my desk, make a pot of tea, and enjoy a “job well done” moment before putting my head down for the next case. One colleague stands at the back of the building among the rubbish skips and boiler pipes blowing smoke rings from a cigar.
Whatever you do when the “The case is closed”, let it remind you why you keep at the job.
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