Interview with a social worker
Interview with a social worker

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Interview with a social worker

Working for health and social welfare: interview with a social worker

1 The job

In this audio clip, Sally talks about the nature of her job.

Activity 1

0 hours 10 minutes

Listen to what Sally says and make some notes on the skills and qualities you think she would need in order to carry out her work, and to meet the challenges she faces every day.

After listening to the clip, think about your own role, and try to identify the skills and qualities you need to carry out your own job.

Download this audio clip.
Skip transcript: 1: The job

Transcript: 1: The job

Support worker
I work for Intermediate Care Service, which is under the local health authority, and I’m actually in occupational therapy, as a senior occupational therapy assistant.
Chris Kubiak
What does the service provide?
Support worker
It’s really to prevent hospital admission, and to help people stay independent in their own homes. So, it’s really to get people out of hospital as quickly as we can, and provide a service at home … because we’re part of a multi-disciplinary team, and I’m part of that team … and to prevent hospital admissions ... so, if people are at risk of falling or … we do planned elective orthopaedic surgery, which is the section I’m for. But it’s really to prevent hospital admission, and to get people out of hospital as quickly as they can, and remain in their own homes.
Chris Kubiak
What kind of people are you working with?
Support worker
The majority are elderly. Our remit, I think, is 18 onwards, but the majority of the people we deal with are elderly. There’s no upper age limit.
Chris Kubiak
And you talked about having a multi-professional team. Who’s in that team?
Support worker
Social workers, physiotherapists, support workers, nurses and occupational therapists
Chris Kubiak
A really diverse range then?
Support worker
It’s huge. It’s the first multidisciplinary team I’ve worked for, and it’s a real bonus. For service users, and as a team member, it’s a really, really positive way of working. You’ve got to be careful of communication, because it’s a huge problem of people on different shifts, doing different rotas. But, as far as of tapping in on expertise, it’s brilliant, for everyone involved, really.
Chris Kubiak
What’s the problem with communication?
Support worker
It’s reaching the people that you need to speak to. Because people are different shifts … they’re on different rosters … I work part-time myself, so I’m only available there a certain amount of time a week. We’re community based, so you’ve got people in and out all the time, and your general workload takes over your day really. You’ve got your planned workload, and you haven’t always got the time on top of that then to follow up people who’ve got hold of you … make the phone calls … you ring people … you miss them. So, I think, although its very, very good multidisciplinary, I think communication is a problem that we definitely face.
Chris Kubiak
So you’re kind of driven through the day really by the schedule of things you need to do … how do you overcome these difficulties of communication?
Support worker
Personally, I just keep my diary really up-to-date. And so, if I don’t manage to chase someone up, I then forward it to my next working day. We’ve got message books … we have answer phones. And, as a team, if I feel that I can’t catch up with something that’s quite important, I’ll often pass it over to a team member … if I’m going off duty, or try and get hold of people more directly by mobile phones, or whilst they’re out working … because, the problem with community working is that everyone’s out all the time. You’re like ships that pass in the night all the time really.
Chris Kubiak
You work quite hard, and are quite focussed about making sure you do the handover stuff, or doing the communication stuff, and so on?
Support worker
Definitely.
Chris Kubiak
You said you’re a senior occupational therapy assistant. Could you tell me what this involves?
Support worker
I work for the planned elective side of occupational therapy, in as much as I deal with the orthopaedics, which are planned events. So the majority of people I see are people who are going in for hip and knee operations. And what we do is, we do a pre-op assessment at home, which is after they’ve had a pre-op assessment in hospital. And I’ll go in and observe them, and assess them in a home environment, and make sure they’ve got enough equipment for when they’re discharged.
We might raise furniture, we look at risk prevention …look at some kind of safety alarm system when they’re due to come home … make sure they’ve got social support … how they’re going to get their shopping, how they’re going to do their laundry, if they live on their own … have they got a family who are going to come and help them … and maybe highlight any problems that might come onto the service later. For example, that they haven’t got any family support, they’ve got no washing machine at home, they haven’t got a microwave. How are they going to get shopping? Or, how are they going to get food? And it’s looking at practical solutions, maybe a delivery home service. And its things like that. Its just looking at practical solutions for them, for when they come home from hospital after their planned operation, to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible, and they’re not kept in hospital too long … so that it’s all sorted for when they come out, and they can be discharged … because a certain pathway that’s followed in the hospital, and that’s quite keenly kept to. So that we can make the job a little bit easier by making sure that everything’s organised before they go home … then that transition should go quite well.
Chris Kubiak
It’s quite a broad assessment, isn’t it?
Support worker
Yes it is.
Chris Kubiak
And it seems to me that it would touch on the work areas of others in your team. So how is that communicated to others in your team?
Support worker
If there’s things that I come across that are outside of my role, that I feel that maybe need a little bit more investigation … maybe caring responsibilities or things that I can’t actually deal with … I would highlight it on my assessment. But I also then go back and would find a social worker. I would then make sure that I’ve passed that information over to another member of the team.
One of the problems is I see people pre-assessment, so they don’t actually get taken on to the service until they are discharged. So I see people probably a good four to six weeks maybe before they’re actually known to our service. So, although I do go to the workers and say, “Well I think there’s going to be a problem with this … there’s going to be a problem with that,” sometimes it’s lost along the way, because it’s not until they’re actually accepted on that these problems might be highlighted again. They might say, “… actually so and so … they mentioned that because they’ve got no support or they’re going to have trouble with those kind of things”.
Chris Kubiak
So there’s a bit of a lag, or a possibility for a lag. So, how do you get around that?
Support worker
I document everything. I make sure that I’ve recorded what I found on my assessment. Then I’ll go and seek out the relevant workers, so that I feel they’re aware, and I document that really. I just make sure that all my paperwork is kept-up-to-date, and it’s quite focussed onto what I feel is important, and that I’ve passed that over. That’s really as much as I can do, as far as that part of it is concerned.
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