Social work diary: ‘My preparation pays off – it’s a positive meeting’

A social worker in community mental health team reflects on their first week back on the frontline

Photo: PhotoSG/Fotolia


After a week off I switch on my computer with some trepidation. There are emails about training, care programme approaches and a collection for a soon-to-retire colleague. More require urgent action, mostly about hospital patients. I spend the day catching up on a particularly tricky case that involves arranging care in a different part of the country. I make calls about some imminent best interests meetings and book visits for the week.

I speak to a mobile phone company to ask them to cancel the account of a patient with advanced dementia. They’ve been writing to her husband demanding money and he’s anxious. It’s a long call but after waiting on hold, I’m told they’ve cancelled the account and waived the charges. I’m pleasantly astounded.

After a brief catch up with my manager about the hospital cases, I meet with a senior social worker for supervision. We discuss the suitability of a community treatment order for a patient in hospital. We also talk about stress levels and whether I’d be interested in taking on a student. It’s a positive session and I feel supported and listened to.


I chat with the estranged son of a client to ask about the tenancy of his mother’s flat. It’s a difficult call; he is defensive and abrasive as I suspect he is living there despite telling me otherwise. His mother is now in care and the housing association want the tenancy relinquished. I suggest meeting face to face to try to diffuse the situation and we pencil-in a date to meet.

Another relative calls me about a letter she’s received about costs for her father-in-law’s care. The letter is worded badly, mentions backdating for the last three years, and she’s worried. I get the details from her, contact our finance team and remind them that this client is subject to S117 aftercare so shouldn’t be charged. It transpires that a trainee had written the letter. They agree to waive the charges and I ring the daughter and tell her to ignore it. Her relief is tangible.


I meet a colleague at a client’s flat. He is in care, has no family and has asked us to collect some belongings. The flat is dusty and neglected. We quickly pick up some clothing as well as unopened post, lock up and return to the office. I complete an inventory of the items we removed, and I arrange to take them to the care home.

The afternoon is spent writing a complex mental capacity assessment and I arrange a date for a best interests meeting. I update the discharge team and our electronic records. I’m put under pressure from a hospital to find a care home for a patient who is ready to be discharged.  The emails flow thick and fast as I try to sort this out.


After attending allocation meetings all morning, I dash off to the hospital to chair a best interests meeting. I’d had a chat with the family beforehand to ensure they understood all the available options. My preparation pays off – it’s a positive meeting.  I discuss the case with the discharge coordinator before heading off for another meeting with a new client.


I’d forgotten I’d agreed to allow a student to spend an observation day with me, so I must think on my feet. Luckily, I’m on duty so it’s busy and there’s enough to give them an idea of what I do. I am fielding calls all day from clients becoming unwell in the community to hospitals wanting to discharge people. I try to reassure the student that it’s a rewarding role. I’m not sure they’re convinced.

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