Someone wise once told me that everyone has something they care about. You just have to find out what it is, then ask them about it and listen. I had a poster made with that written on it and stuck it in my office so, when things were bad, which is quite often these days, I could remind myself why I became a social worker.
Today even those words don’t help because whatever I think there is little I can really do. My hands are tied. I am the puppet and my local authority is pulling the strings. My colleagues and I are screaming from the roof tops, but no one is listening. So, I hope you are, well reading at least. Things have gone too far and I can’t keep quiet any more. Bad management and cost cutting is killing people. Yes, killing people.
Last week I was part of a team sent to chase up some accounting “anomalies” regarding four patients in their nineties. We found one of them dead in her house. No one had been there for weeks even though she was supposed to have been visited by a health and social care practitioner every Thursday. A new member of staff had come in but no one had properly briefed him about who he was required to visit. Apparently there was a language issue. He was from Argentina.
One of the other patients is now in hospital in a critical condition – he wasn’t taking his drugs – and two have gone AWOL. We don’t know where they are. They could be dead too. What are we supposed to tell their families?
How did they slip through a system that is supposed to be all about caring you ask. Well, targets for one thing and too much interference from the suits who don’t know what they are talking about. Plus there’s not enough time spent talking to the people who matter. The managers are always in meetings about budgets, all our training has been cancelled and we only deal with the really serious stuff that might get in the newspapers.
We are so busy making sure we have covered our backs on the bureaucracy that we rarely get out to see people. I see the office cleaner more than I see clients. We are failing the people who need us most. Now we’ve gone into overdrive and have been ordered by our panicked management to visit everyone in receipt of social care. Yeah, that’s a really good use of our dwindling budgets.
This is one of many scandals. Last month three siblings ended up staying at a hotel because we couldn’t find any foster care for them and there was no residential home with space for them. The hotel had been risk assessed, of course! Bet that made their parents feel better. Fortunately for them that meant the mini bar was locked, though I am sure my colleagues probably could have done with a couple of drinks.
I don’t want to do this any more but I don’t have much choice as I am a single mum with two kids. I don’t want them ending up in the system. I know how bad it is.