Monday, 3 March 2008

Guest Post - From the other side.

An alternative view from a Care Professional working with Children with Disabilities.
By Inthemud

Casdok asked me if I would write a short piece about what it’s like on the other side of the fence.
A Social Worker’s point of view.


Firstly, can I just say that I came into Social Work with the aim to be able to support and care for people in need and I wanted to make a difference. Assist people to reach their full potential and support families with the best levels of care possible. I believed I could make a difference, how quickly my hopes were dashed, how quickly I was trod into the ground by petty bureaucracy and lack of funds and lack of resources. Every small piece of resource had to be begged for and eeked out to support many families, so instead of being able to offer respite every weekend, you’d be lucky to get one night a month.

I digress, Casdok has allowed me to use her situation of an example of Social Care support and I do feel well placed to talk about it because I was Casdok and C’s social worker for over 12 years. That may surprise some of you, because most of the time all you hear about is social workers coming and going, only staying in teams for 1-2 years before moving on. That is not how I work, I’ve been a “stayer”, even though my title changed, the department changed around me but I stayed with my families through thick and thin.
I joined this team in 1994, having worked for another team elsewhere in the county for the previous 10 years.

Casdok came with a Government Health Warning. The mere mention of her name had social workers and managers quaking in their boots and fleeing for the hills.
Casdok and her previous social worker had not seen eye to eye, and management had had to take over waiting for a new social worker to take on this daunting role.
Then I joined the team, innocent of past history but was soon briefed as to the notoriety of the case and the ominous task of taking over.

You see Casdok knew what she wanted for C and wasn’t prepared to rest until she got it, this always causes major problems for a strapped for cash Social Services team.
I must admit I was dreading my initial contact with Casdok and had many sleepless nights leading up to it. But when the day arrived, I met with Casdok and C for the first time and I was shocked by the enormity of his disability and what Casdok had to go through each day. I was totally in awe of Casdok’s determination to get the right school for her son. I vowed there and then that I would do my level best to help her achieve her goals for C.

Not everything was plain sailing, I had a huge fight on my hands to get Senior Management to agree the necessary and appropriate care packages.
There would be weeks and weeks of utter frustration and desperation during which time I would be writing reports, presenting to resource panels and attending meetings, only to be turned down and told to do something else, find a more economic resource, then rewrite reports and go back to panels. But I was resourceful and tried to be as creative as possible within a confined situation as I was determined to fight for Casdok because I believed she deserved the best I could get for her and for C.
It was an uphill struggle, no sooner would we get one part of the care sorted then another problem would arise and we’d have to start all over again.
Casdok got the school she wanted for C, but the holiday respite wasn’t working and it was so difficult to get it right. C’s autism meant he really found change intolerable and to come home from termly boarding and then have to go to respite just tipped him over the top and his behaviour would escalate to such levels that no one knew how to cope with him. So we had to think again.
I organised home based respite for him, and whilst this was partly ok, it wasn’t ideal as the nurses varied from visit to visit and C got very confused and distressed, causing even more problems for Casdok when they left.

Then came the Godsend, the Government introduced Direct payments. I was a huge advocate for this, I’d already been attempting to offer flexible respite to families, i.e. giving them funding to sort out their own care but it had only been on a limited basis. This new step forward meant that Casdok could choose who she wanted to support her and C at home.
So I lead the way and set up the first Direct payment for Children in our County and Casdok at last got the support for C that she needed, it only took 8 years!!

Casdok and I shared many difficult times over the years- but I believe Casdok trusted me to do my best and whilst I couldn’t always get what she needed straight away I usually got there in the end. I learnt to play the system. But it frustrated me enormously that families like Casdok and C have to jump through so many hoops to get what they should have by right, appropriate education, social life and access to good health care. Having a child with Autism is struggle enough without having to battle constantly for every small amount of support. Yet the only way a family seems to get enough respite or the appropriate schooling is to fight and fight hard.

I’ve known Casdok for 14 years and I still don’t know how she does it, where she get her energy to keep going, but she does it, because she loves her son. And I have the greatest respect for her, I hold her in high esteem for all she has done for C and for other people with autism.
Working with families like Casdok and C is exhausting, but there is a sense of achievement when you’ve fought the battles and at last got the right resources in place.
I do not usually stay in contact with clients, but Casdok has become so much more than a client and now I no longer work for that organisation we have become good friends.

Don’t be too hard on your social worker, she has a job to do within the tight restraints that councils operate, but if you look for the human being within you’ll find a caring, wonderful person who just wants to help you………..Well, that’s how I felt!

Thank you Inthemud for writing this, and for supporting C and I for all those years. We certainly went through a lot together. I really don't know where we would be now with out your determination and heart.
You did make a difference. x

64 comments:

Anne Brooke said...

That's very enlightening indeed - and so glad you found someone on your side, Casdok - well done, both!

Hugs

A
xxx

Joker The Lurcher said...

its great to hear from 'the other side' (i thought it might be a ghost post at first!) - we are very lucky with the support we have, but we have never had to face the huge challenges that casdok has. rock on, both of you!

frog ponds rock... said...

(((hugs)))

Elissa said...

You're both blessed to have each other - it seems you've enriched each others lives in so many ways... a true friendship to treasure...

Thanks In The Mud for sharing in such an open and honest way. What wonderful insights into something that we often don't think much about.

And thank you to both of you for making a difference!

Casdok, as always, an enlightening post that hits the mark! xx

BenefitScroungingScum said...

This is a great post, and a great idea. It's wonderful to hear that there are social workers out there who care and fight for their clients.
Unfortunately personal experience has taught me that social workers such as yourself are such rare creatures you're almost mythical. BG

Stinking Billy said...

casdok, It was a red-letter day when you and inthemud found each other. Her description of your determination and tenacity has put me in awe of you. How can you stay so tough when you look so, erm, nice??

Way to go girl!

Jen said...

What a fantastic post- we've been very blessed with the social workers that we've had, and I'm very glad to hear from someone else who sticks it out and goes the extra mile. Inthemud, I hope that you realize just how much help you are to your families!

Odat said...

Thanks inthemud for sharing your thoughts and feelings..."C" and Casdok were blessed when they found you! It's just such a shame the bureaucracy one has to fight thru to get something they truly deserve.
Peace

Cait O'Connor said...

It's a pity there are not more 'Muddies' about in the public sector and beyond.
Thank you for that illuminating blog.
Great idea to have a guest blogger by the way.

Inthemud said...

Stinking Billy,
Casdok is nice, but she has had to develop a tough skin, fortunately she has good moisteriser to keep it soft and flexible!!
Benefits SS, I like the thought of being a mythical creature but I'm sure it's not true, there are many good caring SW's out there, but it's the system that ruins it for most.
Joker, if BSS thinks I'm a mythical creature, maybe I am from the other side after all......Oh Errr!

Phil Plasma said...

As I understand it social work can often be a thankless job, but given the relationship between the two of you it appears you both have thanks for each other, which is the way it should be.

Elizabethd said...

You are the sort of social worker that I would have given eye teeth for when I was teachng children with special needs. Hours were spent liaising with Ed psychs, liaising with indifferent social workers. So often I wanted to help change my childrens' lives, so often I was sidelined.
Well done both of you.

Milla said...

that was a very interesting perspective on it, Muddie.

buffalodickdy said...

Sounds like you're on the same side, but enlightening to hear your situation from another qualified point of view...

laughingwolf said...

thx for the post, the situation in canada is very similar, unfortunately :(

Angela said...

I loved reading this post.. I have seen it from the other side as far as school goes and have a lot of respect for those who can be steady advocates day in and day out. It's a very draining job. Sounds like Casdok & C got a good one! Thank you for such great insight!

Zoƫ said...

I am glad to know that even in these days of cuts and economies, that there are still people like Muddie willing to fight on behalf of others for what is right.

WTG both of you for having the courage and the tenacity to get what C needs. Noone should have to fight for it though, we should be able to help without making it an assault course.

I suspect many parents, and many social workers for that matter, give up with the odds stacked against them as they are.

Rhonda said...

Wow she has shed some light on the other side.
Thanks

Cyndi said...

Love everything about that post! You never cease to amaze me...

Anne said...

You are very fortunate indeed to find a social worker and retain her for so long.

We went through something like seven SW in the first three years (in the US). The government here doesn't inspire employees to remain in their jobs because their caseloads are 100 plus clients.

Most of our SW were concerned with the other children in our house and focused on them instead of focusing on J. We were there for J, for his needs, not for how to handle the needs of our other children. It took quite a while to get that through to them.

When we moved from a big city to a small town (for better schools), we lost all social worker benefits and I became even more involved with J's educational and social needs. By then he was 12 and I had 8 years of experience with social work and felt qualified whereas in the city, I was made to feel that THEY knew best for J, not I.

Looking at J now is a true testament to the program his school and I developed for him to become a viable, productive adult. He is high functioning, works a full time job, drives, manages money but is still somewhere around age 16 in behavior, etc. He is becoming more outgoing as he gets older, as well as more confident in himself.

I truly believe that MOTHERS are the backbone of our autistic children. The fact that you had a great social worker for so many years is quite a BONUS. Well done!

Anne

deb said...

We've had good, bad and indifferent social workers. The best we had was our last one. She was kind and didn't turn contract time into an acrimonious battle which was hugely appreciated. It's nice to hear from such a wonderful social worker and I'm sure your help made a world of difference for Casdok and C.

Get Off My Lawn! said...

I think Inthemud hit the nail on the head in terms of how to affect change. All who begin their work wanting to help people feel that disillusionment. Statistics show that it happens to teachers before Christmas their first year and that 3 out 5 of them move on to other careers within a five years. No one person can make everything better but you learn that by being consistent and persistent, one can make a difference in their direct realm of influence. Much admiration for a social worker who doesn't off-load their cases and move on because that's how you get things done. By fighting that hard fight, which takes time and more energy than any of think when we begin our careers.

teeni said...

It's great that you were able to land such a caring social worker. I know many people who enter the field because they are caring souls but cannot deal with all the red tape. But you found one who stuck with it and stuck with her families - that truly is rare. I'm glad for C's sake that it worked out that way but wish it hadn't had to have been such a struggle to get to where you are.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

They don't come much better than that.

C xx

Marla said...

This was great. Having been in social work I could see the red tape too. It is never easy and the role of social worker is made terribly difficult by it.

I love that Casdok knows what she wants for her son and everyone knows that about her. I am the same way. The schools in Jersey thought I had a lawyer the first time they met with me because of how we were prepared. I took that as a compliment.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

I think it has all been said, and better than I could. What a struggle you have had, and how amazing that you have achieved so much between you. If only some of the obscene amount of money that goes into war, politician's pockets and bank profits (!!) could be re-directed - what a difference it would make. M xx

The Goldfish said...

It was a great idea to do this; well done to you both.

lime said...

really an excellent idea to let inthemud share her perspective.

i salute you both for being able to work so well together and that inthemud has been able to be such an excellent advocate for you and c. you're blessed to have such a long standing productive professional relationship and lasting friendship.

david mcmahon said...

To me, the most vital sentence is this one:

`Every small piece of resource had to be begged for''.

Bless you, bless all carers, all parents and all the children who need care.

Teachin' this mommy new tricks! said...

It is always nice to read about someone trying to fight for something they love or believe in.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Wow Inthemud - now that was a revelation . . .great respect for both of you.

J said...

Thank you for the new perspective. I'm glad your social worker agreed to write the guest post. It sounds like you and your social worker have never given up despite the challenges. I hope the next big transition goes as well as can be expected. Keep hanging in there!

DJ Kirkby said...

Wow Inthemud described the frustrations of working in a caring profession so well, brought back lot sof memeories of what I miss about it and why I don't want to go back to it. What a small world to think the two of you know each other in RL!

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Very informative!

GoneBackSouth said...

Wow I'm in awe. Thanks for sharing, and inspiring.

the mother of this lot said...

Told you that you were a fantastic Mum!

Joy said...

Interesting to hear a different perspective. Thank you for sharing this.

Ron said...

Outstanding post to you BOTH!!!!

And BRAVO to your determination and dedication on an obviously CHALLENGING road!

Your words have planted powerful seeds into the minds and hearts of others who also share in this journey.

Casdok...the love that you have for your son...makes my own heart SWELL and brings tears to my eyes.

And this goes to show ALL of us...just how powerful, LOVE truly is!

Thank you, fine lady. It's an honor to know you!

Betsy said...

Thanks so much for sharing this and for all the efforts to help! It's actually rare to find someone who will stick it out and be so determined! Casdok and C were so lucky to have you!

FXSmom said...

I have to be 100% honest, when I started reading this and saw the words "social worker" a huge wall went up. I was a foster child and was adopted late in childhood for all the wrong reasons. I'm not fond of social workers at all.

But I am glad that I repressed the urge to move onto another blog. It was incredible to hear how you bucked the system you worked for to help this wonderful mom and her son get what the government promises to provide. There truly needs to be more out there with your fire and strength.

Thank you Casdok for having her share her story.

Preposterous Ponderings said...

That was wonderful!

Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Chris H said...

What a neat post, you are a wonderful person "inthemud"...{{{BIG HUGS}}}

captain corky said...

It sounds like you guys are a good match. It's very unfortunate that the system can never figure it out!

Kelley said...

Boo's case managers change all the time. Just too exhausting and draining and sad. They work so hard, deal with angry often abusive parents and rarely get any thanks.

I thank them. I tell them how much I appreciate them. I adore them.

But it is too much and they leave, another to come all bright eyed and full of the light of changing the world.

You were both blessed to find each other.

Rosie said...

Interesting viewpoint. I am just finding out about french attitudes to autism as I am doing some musical work with a few autistic teenagers...I'll be back...

akakarma said...

It's interesting to see what across the big sea is like in human services since I am a social worker myself ( I'm not sure if yours are the same as ours) but I work with adults with severe and persistent mental illness. Sometimes we have clients who have Aspergers, on the spectrum folks. Wonderful piece, glad to hear you lucked out with a good one!

motherx said...

You sound as though you have an excellent social worker. Very hopeful for me to read as I havent had a very good experience with them. Thank you for your comments! X

Angela said...

Awarded you...come get 'em.

Billy said...

I like it that you wouldn't rest until you got what you wanted!

aims said...

Wow - the world needs more people like Inthemud - it really does!
How blessed you are to have her as your friend and helper..

Tom Foolery said...

Great post Casdok. TFX

Leesa said...

Extremely interesting.

PI said...

Hats off to your blessed SW Casdok and hats off to you!

LceeL said...

Casdok, you've been lucky. So many times the SW has been beaten down and defeated by the system and they lose their enthusiasm for the good they have the potential to do - that potential being thwarted by the system. Inthemud - well done, you. And thank you, so much, for having been who and what you are.

Angela said...

It isn't easy finding a good help
It is great when we do

vivavavoom said...

WOW!!! great insight and great letter. So amazing to hear that all that effort was not in vain. Good for you for fighting for your son. I have not known 1/10th of the stuff you have had. But I have also had to fight for my son to get the special needs he needs set up as soon as possible. It has taken me 3 years to just get the audiology part in place and it is paying off finally. He loves the mic his teacher wears and he is finally hearing her over the white noise he cannot block out.

You go Casdok!!! You are an inspiration. SO glad I came across your blog.

Sweet Irene said...

I think I must say congratulations to both your social worker and to you, Casdok. It seems that both of you go over and beyond the limits of what anyone could reasonably demand of you.

What an enormous task you both have undertaken. I very gallantly tip my imaginary hat to both of you. I don't know if I could have done as well under the same circumstances, so all my admiration lies with the both of you.

Each for your own reasons, have done remarkably well to help a child in need and I am very happy that your former social worker was able to tell us a bit about what it was like from his/her point of view.

It seems obvious that they also don't receive the support they need in carrying our their profession to the fullest of their ability.

Jocelyn said...

This was fascinating. It is so rare that I actually get to read about REAL heroism.

From you both.

Mrs. C said...

I kinda flipped when I saw the words "social worker" too. Maybe we would call them "case managers" here? I'm thinking.

Usually social workers here are kinda like psychologists you can go to with problems or... the people that come to your house to take your kids away.

:[

Great post!

KAREN said...

Great post.

My friend (I've mentioned her on here before) has had to fight social services long and hard to get any kind of help, and sadly it hasn't always been successful, so it's good to read that it CAN be.

Jim said...

Its good to see from different point of views. Thanks for sharing.

CrazyCath said...

Fantastic post. Fantastic social worker. Fantastic mum. Lousy system.

My field is mental health nursing and I can ID with the frustration. Well done both of you for getting past that. Inthemud is a professional after my own heart. I fight for my clients too.

wolfbaby said...

I imagine it's difficult on both sides of the fence... glad you two were able to work together like that!!

Bess said...

I wish I even had a social worker, let alone one that cares so deeply as this person...truly her calling in life.