Case Study – What drives a Social Work Assistant?

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A case study from Shropshire Council

“The thing that drives me in my role, is that the people I’m dealing/working with could be me or my family”

Michelle Pullen, a Social Work Assistant with Shropshire’s Council’s Integrated Community Support (ICS) gives an insight to the support that she provides for people moving from hospital to home.

My whole week is busy. Monday starts with what we call MDTs, which is a series of multi-disciplinary team meetings. Here; nurses, physiotherapists and social workers discuss patient needs, family concerns and how a person is managing. That way my colleague Hayley and I can start to work out what might be the best next step for someone who’s been in hospital. Our priority is to get people back to their own homes, where they want to be.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are then spent seeing patients and families: goal planning, drafting assessments, setting up care, facilitating discharge form beds, reviewing people in hospital to see if they are right to go home or into a rehabilitation bed.

Each day I meet people coming from hospital who are in a life changing situation that impacts on their future. They now see themselves very differently. I encounter people in all sorts of situations: from those who’ve had planned hip replacements to those dealing with accidental fractures or even dementia.

I always think ‘that could be me or my mum’. Having a fall or fracture is bad enough but worrying about what care is needed and who’s going to pay for it, makes it even worse. It’s my job to support people and get them home if possible. That could mean arranging care support but it could also mean using assistive technology which maintains independence. It could mean trying things out at home after hospital. For example, it’s difficult to go home and have hospital equipment in your bedroom. But once people see they can manage – their confidence grows.

I’m proud of our hospitals and what they do, but one thing I do see in my role is that ‘the longer people are in a nursing setting the harder it is to go home, and even people needing low level care – develop anxieties’. So the quicker that people are comfortable and back in their own homes the better.

That’s my job. Once I’ve assessed a person and put in place what they need to continue their enablement at home I then hand them to the safe hands of my ICS colleagues who will ensure those needs are met.

The final thing is to get people thinking about preventing or delaying a worsening of their situation. It’s funny but I’m even thinking about ways in which I can prepare myself in my own home. There are too may awkward stairs in my own home. What can I do to make sure that I avoid a crisis? This is something that I talk through a lot.

The thing that inspires me or drives me each day is that the people I’m dealing with could be me or my family.

Phew! That’s quite a week. Though, things don’t stop on a Thursday. I’ve just started my Social Work degree. Every Friday I go to University because I want to get even better at what I do. I’ve seen the care system at first hand. Now I want to improve my understanding of how to work with people and improve their wellbeing, get the best quality support for those who need it.

After all that it’s family life and all the stresses and love that go with that. I have two children. If I can make things better for the people I work with I can make the world a better place for them too!

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