Last week my daughter had her core assessment with her new Adult Services Social Worker. My daughter was unaware of the importance of this meeting, as we wanted her to be her ‘usual’ self and say what she wanted to say. Although we do not know the outcome of the assessment and requests, it is due to go to ‘The Board’ in the next week or two, the experience for myself as a parent and for my daughter has been a positive one. So how did we manage that?
Well, to start with, as parents, we were able to direct and suggest the best place and way to work with my daughter, in order to gain the fullest picture. Fortunately for us, the Social Worker listened to our suggestions and took them on board. She also said that she had a ‘tool’ that she was developing and would like to try it out on my daughter, she would be the guinea pig, so to speak, We liked what she was proposing and so agreed.
The social worker asked about the best place to meet my daughter - at school, or somewhere else outside of the home, and when parents were not around. The social worker took this on board and school were happy to host the meeting during the school day. The social worker made the assessment fun, a quiz in part, and she had made a set of stickers with areas and topics needed to be covered. They then had the ‘fun’ of putting the stickers in the space for ‘need support with’ or ‘I can do this on my own’. A ‘I sometimes need support with this’ section, needs to be added for future assessments.
Later they had a chat with a cup of tea, about what my daughter wanted to do in the future, They talked about and drew where she wanted to live, house, bungalow, flat, who with. What would she like to do when school and college was finished and what things were important to her.
When my daughter came home from school, she told she had had an important meeting at school, and when asked, she said some of it was private, I had to smile at this, but most importantly, she had enjoyed the process, she felt listened to, she was not rushed. The social worker had used different approaches to gain the information she needed. My daughter did not feel stressed or anxious during the process.
The following day the social worker rang me with feedback. She was really pleased with how the meeting had gone, She thanked me for the tips on how best to work with my daughter. She fed back that my daughter showed herself to be a very insightful young woman, who knew what help and support she needed and when, who had a plan for her future and knew that she would need help to get there. I experienced that real proud parent feeling. The social worker was even more amazed when I said that we had not discussed this up coming meeting with our daughter in advance of the meeting, so all the views were hers alone. I had deliberately not mentioned the meeting for two main reasons, one being that I too wanted to know my daughter’s true views without any previous discussions, so I know that we are supporting and enabling her to do what she wants to do. The second was to reduce any stress, pressure and anxiety she will have had regarding the meeting.
I can only hope that my daughter has more positive experiences like this with social workers and other professionals that come into our lives in the future. By being person centred, taking their time and having tools and aids (and preferably a cup of tea), professionals should be able to make being a user of services a positive one, rather than an interaction to dread and worry about. It was a refreshing change that I wanted to share.