An anonymous diary entry by one of Circle’s family support workers, who has a very busy week in the lead up to Christmas.
Names have been changed
I head to the office to tidy up and print supporting letter for a family that I have arranged to see next. The family are struggling to cope following the sudden death of their oldest child. I have arranged to meet with the family’s health visitor before I take the family to an indoor play area and have lunch together in an attempt to provide them with support during this time.
When I get to the house it becomes clear that Jordan aged two was too distressed and doesn’t want to leave the house. Mum and I agree that it would be best to cancel our plan to go out. Instead we settle Jordan with colouring in and spend time going over the supporting letters which I have brought with me. I had provided mum with an Eligible Twos application on my previous visit. If successful, this would enable Jordan to attend a registered child minder or nursery group for up to 16 hours per week. This would help build up Jordan’s confidence and provide mum with some respite. Jordan’s mum was having difficulty completing this and so I supported her to do it. The health visitor arrives and we discus mum’s concerns over Jordan’s behaviours and look at strategies to support him in building his confidence.
I arrange a follow up visit later in the week and advise mum that she can call me anytime if she needs to talk. I hand deliver two of the letters given the urgency of these and the time of year and then return to the office to catch up with admin, including calls.
I start the day off at the office finishing the calls that I haven’t done the previous day. I like to do these at the beginning of the week and I feel that these catch up calls help to build up a good relationship with families and I have a better chance of getting hold of other professionals.
I print off and copy ‘consent to share information’, ‘scaling assessments’ and ‘evaluation forms’. I have two new families and one closing this week and this helps me “feel” organised.
I visit one of my new families and forms are completed. The scaling assessments help to open up further discussion to how the family is coping and any areas where they feel they would like support. This conversation ensures that families feel part of the process and involved in the development of their support plan.
I end my day by attending a Child Protection Core Group meeting and provide an update on my involvement with a family over the last four weeks.
I research and print information from the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Team which I take to my next home visit, following a recent disclosure made by Sally. I spend time with Sally explaining the service and the help that can be offered. I then support Sally to attend a health appointment where we discuss concerns surrounding her disclosure and how best to support her. Sally and I then go for a cuppa before I provide her with practical support. This meeting helps me to gauge Sally’s mood and plan our next contact.
I pop in to see a family for a quick catch up and drop off gifts from the Christmas Toy Appeal before heading back to the office.
I make it a point throughout the week to go over with all my families, either during visits or by telephone, what their plans are for the festive period. We explore how they will cope and what supports are on hand should they need it. At a time of celebration the stress on families is immense and the risk of relapse high. The pressure to provide gifts can impact on their ability to meet their basic needs of food, heating and shelter, never mind enough electricity in the meter for the twinkly lights. I ask how they will manage to feed themselves, the meter or pay a bill to prevent a crisis. I make sure they have a clear plan to help them cope.
Later that day I visit a family for the last time. This was a short piece of work but it is important to take the time to have an appropriate ending. I also take along evaluation forms which are completed. This gives me an opportunity as a worker to see how my approach and engagement skills helped to build a good working relationship over a relatively short space of time.
Today I have a plan A and a plan B. I have two prearranged contacts but have offered to support Jordan and his mum to a Christmas Party as well. I know that to do this I would need to either delay or cancel my home visits. As the morning unfolds I know I am going with the original plan A. Sometimes priorities change and you just need to work with uncertainty.
I do a home visit to my second new family. Again I complete the necessary forms. During the visit Laura asks if I would be able to access any toys from the Christmas Appeal or second hand for her youngest child. I explain that applications had gone in a month earlier but I will speak to colleagues and call her tomorrow. I am careful not to make any false promises.
Back at the office I try to source suitable toys from colleagues. After a few calls and texts, I may have something.
I then go to see Annie at her Primary School for an individual support session. That’s the plan! When I get there Annie doesn’t show up. This has never happened before. After a few calls and an anxious wait, we meet up. Excited by the school’s Christmas celebrations Annie had forgotten to meet me and had headed home instead, but had remembered and returned to the school to meet me. Problem solved.
I end my day thinking about tomorrow’s plan. I then realise that I have a list of things to do. This includes picking up and dropping off toys to families and working this around home visits. My plan is to complete the list!
Today I work my way through the list:
- I start by picking up some toys for Laura’s daughter.
- I visit Jordan and his mum to hand in gifts from Santa who was at the Christmas party yesterday and pick up receipts. I head to the office to photocopy receipts and post these ASAP to the DWP to appeal the social fund award given to the family to go towards funeral costs.
- I visit a new family who are being transferred to me along with their current worker. No answer.
- I return to the office to plan and prepare the rest of my day. I pick up more toys for Laura’s daughter and a food hamper for another family.
- I contact families to give them drop off times for food hampers and gifts.
- I do a planned home visit. The family have a new baby and we spend time discussing some concerns about feeding. I suggest contacting their health visitor who would be able to provide them with advice and guidance. I support mum to rearrange a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) before supporting dad to reregister at the local Health Centre.
- I drop off hampers and gifts to families before returning back to see Jordan and his mum and dropping off all original documents.
- I call the heath visitor to request they provide family with advice on feeding methods during their next visit.
- I receive a text from Laura, “I don’t know how you did it, but thank you so much. It’s appreciated. Have a lovely Christmas.
List done √ home time!