I heard bad news on Monday as I received an email from our social worker to tell me that he is leaving the Disability Team and moving roles within social work. It came as a shock as he leaves in just three weeks time, I had no warning and we do not yet know who will be taking us on. This is all most unsettling as he has been a constant force in our lives for the last 6 years and change is always challenging.
It has got me thinking about what I look for in our social worker and perhaps he could pass these thoughts onto his employer when choosing his replacement :
- They must be a good listener. sometimes he could not solve all of our problems but he always listened to my perspective and tried, where possible, to be reassuring and always honest in his feedback. I know that sometimes I put him on the spot, but he was always kind in his response
- I need an ally, someone who will be on our side. He always came to our Annual Reviews at school and would be an objective voice. Unfortunately there was just one time when we needed an ally, at our tribunal against the local authority when I asked that he would be our witness, but he could not represent us against his own employer. Other than then, I always appreciated his loyalty
- To be constantly available but not forever visiting. We had the balance right for me, in that I knew how to get hold of him and to request a visit if we needed him, but otherwise, he kept his distance.
- To be constantly bearing us in mind : I would often receive leaflets or information on events that he thought Joshua would like and would make suggestions. They were not always successful, I have already share with you our water sports adventure, but he never stopped making suggestions
- To have a sense of humour about the ridiculous situations that we find ourselves in. I often have the attitude, laugh or else I will cry and he shared that outlook
- To invest the time in getting to know his family cases: we are not by any means typical amongst his caseload and we had some early teething problems, but he gradually learned what mattered to our family and he made several visits to Joshua in respite or school, when I was not present, to continue getting to know my boy.
I appreciate all that he has done for us over the last difficult six years: he has held our hand through some massive events in Joshua’s life – our change of special school and brain surgery and now has set the ball rolling for our new respite provision, which should finally get moving after he has left. I will miss him terribly but wish him well in his new social work role and he should leave knowing that he has made a real difference to our family.