Home » Lockdown diary: ‘We have limited access to vulnerable children’
This is a guest blog from Temi Osonaike, Senior Social Worker.
My alarm goes off at 8am prompt and I hop into the shower and shortly after, make myself a cup of green tea ready for the day ahead.
I have a table which I bravely collected from the spider web filled shed. I strategically placed this in my bedroom as this is the brightest room in the house.
I get to imagine I’m in a hot country, remote working…my imagination gets the better of me until I am rudely awakened by Microsoft Teams notifications. I am back in the comfort of my bedroom. I receive good morning messages from my team between 9am-9.15am and everyone is checked in and ready to commence their working day.
Checking in with children
“Hello Moto,” my work phone is switched on and phone calls begin to come in. Scheduled virtual visits with children and families subject to Child Protection and Children in Need Plans are under way.
For the most part parents and carers have been open to communication via WhatsApp video calls whilst others…well, the battle continues to ensure that the children are seen and heard.
Sighs of relief when I have checked in and seen that my children are safe.
In between phone calls and virtual visits I respond to emails, mainly from schools and health professionals, I share resources/tools with families and other colleagues, upload my case notes and meeting minutes and before I know it. 12:50 pm strikes. I receive an email reminder by my super team manager stating: ‘Team meeting starts in 10 mins, remember to log in to Microsoft Teams.’
Team meeting time
Whether we admit it or not, I for one look forward to connecting via MST with my team. I’ve observed a theme: one of my colleagues shares where her new location is during each meeting, on some days it has been Cuba, and other days it has been Colombia (in her dreams). Another of my colleagues doesn’t realise she is on mute and so we all gesture to her as if we are playing a game of charades that we can’t hear her, whilst another colleague logs in to the meeting in true social work style, a couple of minutes late.
My team manager quickly reigns everyone in and restores order to the video call. We discuss the feedback from the managers’ meeting and share our views on the impact this will have on our practice as social workers.
The meeting draws to an end, and everyone is reluctant to leave but true to our profession, we all quickly gain sight of the time and rush off (virtually) to our scheduled Children in Need review meetings or core group meetings.
At some point between the end of our daily team meetings and the end of the working day, I manage to top up on my cup of tea and get a snack. You’d think that working from home would mean you snack more because you have unlimited access to the kitchen. However, I have come to find that a day in my life as a social worker working from home is not quite the dream.
The risk we are holding as professionals is heightened even more during this period, as we have limited face-to-face access to our most vulnerable children and families.
In turn we are having to evidence the extent to which we are going to ensure that we are managing such risk adequately from the confines of our home. We are doing all of this whilst ensuring we are in good enough health to be able to do this job during such a time as this.
Feelings of guilt, but also helplessness, consume me at times as I reflect on decisions yet to be made if and when a crisis is to come and I am asked to head out on a home visit. Is this a risk I am willing to take? Or is this a risk I should be taking?
I quickly deflect from this and imagine myself journeying to a hot country somewhere far from England, as the sun is blazing through my bedroom blinds.
I imagine myself sat on an aeroplane and vividly hearing the air hostess saying, ‘If you are a parent and you have a child, ensure you place your own mask on before that of your child’.
My imagination is disrupted by an email from my team manager asking who among us is fit and healthy and willing to go on a home visit if directed by senior management.
For now, I haven’t had to make that decision yet. But, in light of Covid-19, I have promised that I will ensure my own mask is on as a social worker before venturing into visits which would require me to place the masks on children and families to safeguard them from harm.
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