Thursday, March 31, 2011

Records and Receipts

We in social services spend a lot of time in coffee shops.  And when I say a lot, I mean a LOT.  My agency will reimburse me (up to a certain amount) for beverages purchased on client meetings.

Of course I always forget to ask for a receipt.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Well, in case you hadn’t heard yet it’s election time in Canada. Inevitably, election talk comes up with clients. I’m consistently surprised by the number of my clients who profess to support the Conservative party. Everything I’ve ever learned tells me that the Tory’s do the least for the issues that I think of as relevant to my clients, ie., failing to create the promised National Housing Strategy, cancelling Universal Child Care, “tough on crime” policies.

Still, I’m glad when anyone is engaged enough to vote. Hey, maybe I’ve been too brainwashed by the socialist, left-wing nuts (I’ve been a bleeding heart all my life) who seem to abound in social services to ever see what the appeal might be.

Of course, I put on my best non-partisan face during these discussions. Despite how much strain that may put on my face (it hurts!) Maybe I should just ask...what they like about the party, that is...just out of curiosity's sake. Yeah, I think I might be able to get away with that.

I can’t stop thinking about this since one woman told me today that she is considering volunteering for the Harper campaign. Even though she has declared this a “Seinfeld election”.

Go figure.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quick Update

Check out my updated blog roll. New! Improved! Shiny!

Tinnitus too

We have a new microwave in the office. The tone when you push the buttons is extremely annoying.

The photocopier won't stop beeping because it is angry that it has nearly run out of cyan toner.

My co-worker must be very popular today, because she left her cell phone on her desk and the beeping, bleeping, and ridiculous ringtone are incessant!

There are at least 6 people in here all on the phone at once, yelling at the poor people on the other end of the line in order to hear themselves over everyone else!!!


If this is some weird test from the universe to see how well I handle what many of my voice hearing clients experience every day then I fail. Miserably.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Hello blogosphere, did you miss me? Uh, what's that you say? You didn't eeven realize I was gone? Well after one weeks holiday from work and thus from this little blog as well, I certainly missed you.

One week apart was enough (it'll have to do anyway), so now things are back to normal. (what's normal? -that's a question for another day)

I've returned to 111 unread emails, only 4 new voicemails, and 1 new client assigned to my workload. Not bad, I guess.

And yes, I totally look this neat and sparkly when sitting at my desk on a Monday morning.

***UPDATE*** Apparently one week is also long enough to forget how to connect to a printer and syncroize your blackberry. *grumble*grumble*

Friday, March 11, 2011

Putting two and two together

Picking up my messages this morning, I had one from a client asking me to help her prepare for a college-entry math test. While I have many skills I feel I can draw upon to support my clients, math is just sooooo not one of them. Trust me honey, let's not even go there!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Long Haul

How do you help a client who has been the recipient of case management supports for 14 years, and does not yet understand why she is receiving the service and what is its purpose? She can tell me exactly the number of visits she’s had (108 from me over the past 2.5 years, 784 total from all CM’s) but not why they are happening.

Careful of becoming frustrated, I go into empathetic mode. “You seem to have some questions…” “I hear that this is distressing you…” “Is there help you would like that you don’t feel you are getting…”

I’m not sure she hears what I say, as she would like to reinforce her previous statements, and repeats what she’s said before I am finished. Then repeats it again. We are testing the limits of the “recovery model” profoundly here.

So I call in the reinforcements. Her “natural supports” (dad) to keep him in the loop. He really wants to help, but doesn’t always know how. The “formal supports” (housing provider) to give a heads up and some background on the angry and frustrated phone call(s) they will inevitably be receiving. My supervisor so I can check my feelings about the situation, and get the help I need to figure out clinical solutions that may work here.

I really do believe in recovery. A situation like this makes me wonder if there was a failure in the system along the way, something early on perhaps that did not help this person gain understanding and a sense of control over their life situation (answer=probably). Perhaps it’s the set up, the fact that by accepting a rent supplement, she is bound to the “support” aspect of supportive housing. This policy has always troubled me as it is so far from “recovery” based.

On the other hand, maybe this is what recovery looks like for her. She’s been able to live in a place she likes for all those years. She has hobbies and things she likes to do, however sporadically she does them. She tells me she never wants to return to work, and does not want anything drastically different in her life.

Or instead, that could mean we haven’t done a good enough job of instilling hope and conveying a sense of what is possible.

Perhaps her journey is just a painstakingly slow long one. Maybe 14 years has just not been enough to create a new sense of self and new way of living after (what I understand to be) many years of neglect, abuse, illness and loss.

Sometimes it is just too hard to know.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

IWD 2011

Exactly one year ago I posted Happy International Women's Day with the comment that "our work is never done."  I like this phrase because it seems to speak to both the (often) intense expectations placed on individual women in their daily lives, as well as the larger social work of feminism, specifically ending sexism.

I love the rant below, and although I've been unable to determine it's original source, it can easily be found all over the internet.  Check out the links, I think they show some of the great work women are doing, and how much more we have to go.


Because women's work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we're the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it's our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we're nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we're nymphos and if we don't we're frigid and if we love women it's because we can't get a "real" man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we're neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we're selfish and if we stand up for our rights we're aggressive and "unfeminine" and if we don't we're typical weak females and if we want to get married we're out to trap a man and if we don't we're unnatural and because we still can't get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can't cope or don't want a pregnancy we're made to feel guilty about abortion and...for lots of other reasons we are part of the women's liberation movement.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Coworker speaking to a client on the phone: I don't know what that is, but I'll give that a Google.

Really people, maybe we're taking this whole "google" as a verb thing too far!

Friday, March 4, 2011


Just...lost...a whole...assessment...that took me...2!!!!


My Friday night bottle of wine can't come fast enough...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When Spell Check Doesn't Help

Note to self: when recording how a client copes with their symptoms of depression, there is a big difference between "medication" and "meditation."  While both could potentially be effective, be sure to pick the right one.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Celebrate the Small Stuff

It's really easy to get bogged down by negativity and frustration in this line of work.  Sometimes you just can't help but feel that recovery is impossibly slow, and "the system" is nothing but a big nasty mess serving only to keep people down.  It doesn't help when all over the news there are stories of families who lock their mother suffering with dementia in the garage, and Community Housing Corporations with big spending problems.

This is why it is so important to celebrate the successes.  Even the small stuff. 

Yesterday a client of mine officially received a Regional rent subsidy on her apartment (not from the troubled TCHC).  This is the first client I have even been working with that I have seen come to the top of the list!  She had been waiting for 14 years.  Despite all the paperwork (which this client in particular has zero patience for) she was very excited, as was I. 

Next week we're going to Roll up the Rim to celebrate.