Social work diary: ‘We say we were thinking of having the police break in and she gets angry’

A social worker reflects on a first week in a job that includes resolving a tricky situation with a client, struggles with IT and a friendly new team

Photo: WavebreakMediaMicro/Fotolia

Monday

It’s my first day in a new job. I have a desk and a computer, in a good location near the kitchen and the loos. There is the usual confusion about my email address, my login details and which number to call IT on. The team seem friendly which is always a good start.

I join a colleague on visits around the area; residential homes and clinics. I spot with delight, a nearby café advertising homemade cakes and coffee.

Tuesday

My new manager suggests that I shadow colleagues and tells me I’ll have some cases next week. I’m surprised – I thought I’d been drafted in to help with a backlog of reviews. I contact training and development and enrol on some mandatory training for new staff.

My first visit is to a carer who is looking after her sick husband. It’s a very sad visit – she knows his prognosis is poor but has been trying her hardest to maintain some semblance of normality in their daily routine. Their son is present, anxiously adding his views on the situation and urging his mother to tell me ‘the truth’. The stress in the room is palpable and I’m as worried about the carer as I am her husband.

I return to the office to try and work out how to secure a care package in this new team. IT hasn’t got back to me yet so I can’t access the online commissioning system. I rely on colleagues to tell me which forms to complete and I start the lengthy process of assessment and panel applications.

Wednesday

I attend the team meeting.  The room is too small, too hot and everyone is crammed-in like sardines. The issues are familiar. Two members of staff are on long-term sick leave so their cases need to be redistributed. Another person has got a new job, and will leave soon.  As the cases are dished out, we discuss the tricky ones and bemoan the lack of affordable residential care.

Thursday

I join a stressed colleague at the house of a client who appears not to be in, despite an appointment having been made. There is concern that the client may have harmed themselves or had a fall. We ring around, try the key safe and call our manager – should we call the police? In the nick of time, the client drives up, apologising for being late. We mention that we were thinking of having the police break the door down and she becomes angry at this, demanding to know how we had the authority to do so. However, we manage to diffuse the situation, make a second appointment for the next day and leave.

I’m finally allocated some cases and spend the afternoon reading the file notes online.

I make an appointment to complete a capacity assessment for a man with a diagnosis of dementia. His wife is requesting some respite but she is worried he will refuse. She is kind and obviously caring but is at the end of her tether. Luckily the occupational therapist in our team knows the family well and is able to give me some background information.

I end the week by booking some online training and finally  getting my new ID badge. I note with sadness that I have acquired more wrinkles and grey hair since my last photo three years ago.

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