Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lost in Translation

I subscribe to an online discussion forum for housing workers in my area. I often skim the discussion notices I get in my in-box, however the following caught my attention:

User 1: Hello, we are searching for a Ga-speaking mental health outreach worker for one of our Ghanaian tenants who is struggling with schizophrenia. We've contacted a number of MH service agencies and settlement service agencies, but have had no luck. Any contacts would be much appreciated.

User 2: you can try Multilingual Community Interrupter Service who would be able to support you!!!

User 3: I believe the spelling is Interpreter. An interrupter service would be the polar opposite of that provided by MCIS.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Circle of Care

Earlier this week I joined a client during a CAS (Children's Aid Services) intake interview. It took over two hours. I was the one who had called CAS in. She was aware that I was going to do so, and was more or less okay with it. She's had involvement from them before, and wants to get the help that she and her kids need.

As much as she's on board with using services and accessing supports, I still can't help but sigh when she starts signing consent forms and there are 7, 8, 9 or more of them.

There is a fine line between helping, and invading somebody's life. I fear that line fell closer to helpers number 3 or 4. Maybe 5, but definitely somewhere way before 10.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Long Haul

I can't believe I have been working at the same agency for FOUR YEARS as of this week! Granted, I've worked in three different programs and held four different job titles over that time, but still.

I've also had seven different supervisors in that same period of time. Eight, if you count a director who subbed while we were between bosses. That's got to be a record of some kind.

There is likely a lengthy post here about how I wound up where I am, but frankly it's just too hot today to think that hard.

The combination of these two factors (my employment longevity and the raging heat) tell me that some kind of celebration involving cold beverages is in order. Imma get right on that.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Social Work Summer Look Book

Summer provides a particular set of challenges for the housing worker dress code. As always, we must look professional enough for the office, but causal enough meet comfortably with clients in their homes.

Temperatures have been in the 30’s, and even hitting 40 with the humidity so we must try to stay cool. Getting in and out of the car is inevitably hot and sticky. Most clients do not have A/C at home. The office, on the other hand, as well as the many coffee shops, libraries and other public spaces we frequent are chilled to what I’m sure is minus 5 degrees, so layers are important. I’m toting cardigans with me in the middle of a July heat-wave.

We don’t get paid enough to maintain a particularly generous wardrobe which means I rotate the same 2 pairs of shorts and one skirt with great frequency. They are the only things that will allow me some relief from heat, while also allowing me to sit comfortably in some of the less than sparkling clean apartments and rooming houses I visit regularly.

And then there are the shoes.

I read with jealously when SocialJerk disparaged the social worker stereotype of wearing Birkenstocks, because frankly, I’d take any type of sandal right about now no matter how “social worky” they may make me look. But that’s a big no-no. Along with outlawing high heels (makes sense when we are entering all types of settings with a wide variety of health and safety disasters problems concerns) my agency has decided that a fully enclosed heel and closed toe are the only way to go. So the choices are sneakers and socks (which look AWESOME with my shorts and scrawny legs) or some type of flat dress shoes. Either of which leads to sweaty and stinky.

And the cherry on top of this sweaty, sweater-toting, scrawny legged mess? There are some clients who do keep a very neat and tidy home and want me to take my shoes off when I come inside. I’m not allowed to do this, and it’s too bulky to bring along “indoor shoes” so I end up popping on these babies:

Who ever said social work isn’t sexy, hmm?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Office Space

I love my desk.

At least as much as anyone can love their designated office compartment. 

At a recent restructuring of our office, I finagled and pulled rank to get this lovely quiet spot at the far end of the office, with a window at my back.  I get to enjoy the sunshine as well as relative privacy.  I take comfort in the fact that there is no one behind me.  Until I turn around and realize that three levels of management have been sitting at the picnic table directly outside the window, while I have just spent 10 minutes checking Facebook.  Whoops!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Alternative Medicine...Sweet, Sweet Medicine...

Any changes to your medication recently?

-Well, my doctor says my cholesterol is high. He prescribed me something for it, but I don't think I'm going to take it because of the side effects.

My friend had high cholesterol and his doctor told him to start eating walnuts. He ate a whole bunch and his cholesterol came right down in a week! So I already went to the grocery store and picked up a big box of walnut brownies.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Counting My (Summer) Blessings

The amazing weather from my extended long weekend has continued so far this week. This kind of beautiful Canadian summer makes almost me wish I had taken a Child & Youth option and gone to work in a school (that’s a big almost – I have great respect for people who work with kids, cause just the thought makes me shake in my boots) so I could have the summers off.

It’s been a little hard to focus back here at work. I’ve wasted much breath trying to convince several clients to go for a walk outside on our meetings. It works with a few, but the rest are suspect when I try a little too hard to sell them on the merits of all that extra vitamin D and exercise.

The one thing that keeps me buckling down is the countdown to my next vacation period. Even though my work doesn’t pay me enough to afford any type of exotic trip this vacation, I feel grateful to have this stimulating and challenging job, and to work in a place that appreciates the efforts it takes enough to offer us substantial vacation time.

I’m really looking forward to implementing my personal self-care plan in 16.5 days.