I love to spend some Saturday afternoons in the East End taking pictures of the street art that shouts out for attention from the walls, shop-shutters, bridges and other unexpected surfaces around Brick Lane and Shoreditch . They’re snapshots – moments in time – and I’m aware that as soon as I walk away the sunshine, rain, wind, and the spray cans of other graffiti artists will alter them. They are out in the real world, not in a gallery, so they will always be works in progress. I decided to paint some of these snapshots. To capture them on canvas before they were altered.
Now that’s ok in art, but I am learning fast that a snapshot of a client is never enough to work with when doing a support plan. They are a work in progress and that must be taken into consideration. Other, far more experienced people than me, who work in adult social care are saying the same things and looking for ways to improve the way assessements are carried out.
I was reading the post “making adult social care better 1” on the excellent blog – fighting monsters (see links). It talks about the “effect of 15 minute “spot” visits” and that they are “part of the lack of dignity present in the care of older people”. The post goes on to say that what is needed is “some sort of enterprise to focus specifically on support planning and advocacy for adults with dementia”. Alexfoxblog (see link) in his latest post makes the point that to get access to money now you must be able to prove how bad it is now – thus preventing any financial support for preventative measures that may well save money in the long run. He believes it is important “to assess the individual’s direction of travel, not just a snapshot of their current problems. How about an assessment which looked at the next 12 months of someone’s life, for instance? Where are they now, but also, where are they expected to be?”
As I’m learning to work with older people I am becoming aware that things can be more complex than they appear and cannot always be spotted on one visit. I am currently working on a support plan for an 84 year old lady. On my first visit her family said she had some cognitive issues, but they also believed she managed well enough on her own. It was only on my second and third visits that more information was forthcoming and I was able to observe situations which gave me cause for concern about my client’s ability to manage on her own. As a result one action I have taken is to ask the family to get a memory service referral from my client’s GP, so she can be professionally assessed for symptoms of dementia and then receive the appropriate support. I explained that this was necessary because – to implement a support plan that does not take into consideration some of the issues that may lie ahead for the client, really makes little sense.
A snapshot visit would not have been sufficient to ensure appropriate support was put in place. Having and spending the time required in order to see the fuller picture is essential if the personalisation process is going to work well for older people. I was surprised to discover that some local authorities are adding support planning to the workload of already overworked social workers. How do social workers feel about this ? Is it simply about local authorities saving money?
As a full time support planner I do have more time to spend with clients. But are there enough support planners being trained nationally?
Does anybody have information about this? And what thoughts do you have on the subject discussed in this post?
Do post a comment and let me know.