Social work diary: ‘I catch sight of a client and duck into the next aisle’

Dealing with a hostile care home, supporting colleagues and avoiding a client on a day off form part of this adult social care worker's week

Photo: Minerva Studios/Fotolia


My role usually involves visiting a lot of different settings and today is centred on care homes. Both my morning and afternoon visits are to homes where there are significant concerns about quality of provision, but that is where the similarities seem to end. This morning, I am met with hostility, the manager is highly defensive and treats me with derision. I keep calm and neutral and my unruffled demeanour seems to irritate them even more, as I resist from engaging in the argument they seem to be seeking. I exhale loudly as I leave and have lingering fear about what is happening after the door closes behind me.

By contrast, the afternoon’s provider is openly welcoming of professional input and, on the face of it at least, seems happy to receive any support that can improve the day-to-day life of the residents. They need a lot of guidance and I do have to point out what seem to be fairly basic oversights, but there is shared agreement about the work required and an action plan made.


This morning my cases seem to be mostly behaving themselves, so I am able to support a colleague who is having a difficult time with queries flying at her from all directions. Sometimes when you are in the midst of all the phone calls, emails and other demands it can be hard to see a way through, and an outside perspective can be useful for cutting through and prioritising.

I value the give and take of our team environment and I am happy to lend a hand. I work through some straightforward tasks for them to quickly tick off their list, before I head back to yesterday afternoon’s care home where thankfully I am able to confirm that they have begun to work through their to-do list and the action plan is being followed.


I’m in the office all morning catching up on the never-ending admin tasks before heading out to see a young man who I have supported through the transition process. He is now living by himself in supported accommodation. He has complex needs and is still adjusting to new freedoms and responsibilities. I’m participating in a continuing healthcare meeting and am happy with the recommendation made, although after working with him so intensely for so long to reach this point, I’ll be sorry that if approved it means my involvement will end. It’s a very long meeting and I leave late in the afternoon with a tired body and brain.


I’m not in work today and instead I’m catching up on my own appointments and general tasks. However while out running errands, I catch sight of a current client. Today I would rather avoid conversation and decide to duck into the next aisle in the supermarket. I’m not sure if it is cowardly or self-care. Sitting watching TV in the evening, I’m very aware of my work laptop in the corner of the room where it has sat since my return last night. I eventually succumb and log on to check my emails and our case recording system, but thankfully there is nothing too unexpected or horrendous waiting for me to deal with tomorrow.


After a few hours catching up this morning, I am supporting a colleague to attend a meeting with children’s services. The home environment can be volatile and there are issues relating to parental physical disability, mental health and multiple caring roles. The young child is now receiving support and it is good to have everyone in the room to clarify remits and roles, particularly as expectations on our service have perhaps been misunderstood in the past. The chair seems nervous of being direct and I end up having to raise some issues relating to risk which need discussion, because they seem reluctant to do so.

I snatch a quick bite to eat before I end the week how I started, with another care home review. I am relieved that the situation seems more settled for this client and I am glad to end the week on a more positive note.

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6 Responses to Social work diary: ‘I catch sight of a client and duck into the next aisle’

  1. Hel January 5, 2018 at 9:27 pm #

    I do struggle with the commonly used phrase ‘client’ and ‘service user’. I strive never to use such a classification and term

    • Spike January 8, 2018 at 12:15 pm #

      What would you suggest as an alternative?

    • Clare Pritchard January 8, 2018 at 2:06 pm #

      What term do you use?

  2. Stephen Lindsay January 8, 2018 at 1:01 pm #

    What do you use instead? I’ve never been happy with either term but nor have I found a suitable alternative.

  3. Cheryl January 9, 2018 at 12:04 am #

    I’ve ducked onto a different grocery store ailse, too, it’s ‘work-life balance’ and definitely self care.

  4. Sarah January 10, 2018 at 11:47 pm #

    What’s wrong with “individual”?