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Louise Roberts Cardiff University.  Support Care conference, Bristol 2010  Limited UK academic attention: There is little written in social work literature.

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Presentation on theme: "Louise Roberts Cardiff University.  Support Care conference, Bristol 2010  Limited UK academic attention: There is little written in social work literature."— Presentation transcript:

1 Louise Roberts Cardiff University

2  Support Care conference, Bristol 2010  Limited UK academic attention: There is little written in social work literature on the ending of the relationship that a social worker and client have established. (Nursten 1997: 73) The process of bringing intervention to a close is an important aspect of people work, and yet it is one that is often neglected. (Thompson 2002: 224) There is little in the literature on the process of closing cases and ending relationships. (Coulshed and Orme 2006: 285)  Previous research, Aldgate and Bradley (1999)

3  Small-scale exploratory project  One local authority area  Nine support carers participated  Semi-structured interviews  Ethical approval

4  Respite care or Support Care?  Time-limited service?

5 The Practical Management of Endings  Special / memorable events, inc. day trips, food  Memory books: “ I’m not very creative but you do a little diary thing for them and I put a little, well I had a little photo album and he used to love to cook and I had some recipes and I put these down on the photocopier in work.... so he could see what we had made, you know pictures uh anything a sort of picture wall anything so that he would have then as a record.” (Jessie)  Verbal: “ You just say so long and do the best you can and if they ever want to call back you can and give them the stability of knowing that we’re always here. But its... there’s never anything structured.” (Graham)

6  Sudden endings: “ It was only when the next time was coming that they told me she had moved and that I didn’t have to worry about it now.” (Rebecca) “ Most of the placements that we’ve had have come to an end sharply, in that they’ve had a change in their circumstances or gone back to their parents. Or because of other circumstances they’ve been placed with other carers. “(Paul) “ We don’t get an ending.... We had one boy who had been coming to us for over a year overnight and weekends but he went back to mum. But it was a sudden ‘he’s gone back home’. You know he was living with his grandparents because of issues with the mother and the step-father, um grandparents weren’t very well and were getting on and we were providing that break. The child did have some sort of behavioural issues, you know, but it was manageable, it was nothing major. But then out of the blue we were told this child wasn’t coming back because he’s gone to mum. And that was it. End of.” (Victoria)

7  Emotional aspects of Support Carer role:  All carers discussed their fondness / attachment towards children they had worked with.  Some carers found the emotional aspects of their work more challenging: “ You do all this work on attachment theories and you make this really good bond with this child and it’s not work, its family. And you don’t just see family that you love and then just say bye.” (Sarah)  Other carers had less difficulty in reconciling the time-limited nature of the intervention: “ I didn’t decide to do it [become a Support Carer] as a need for myself. It wasn’t to fill a need because there’s no children in the house. So I wasn’t looking for something to have that I wouldn’t want to give back. I don’t know if that makes sense. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about them and it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t upset when they go, but they are not mine. You are only there to help the family situation and when that’s enough, when they don’t need me, then that’s when it’s been successful.“(Jessie)

8  Endings for children:  Endings can be upsetting for children and difficult to understand: “You don’t want me because the baby is coming.” (Tim - Support Care child referring to his carer’s pregnancy) “I’d woken up in the morning and I could hear him crying and when I went into the room he turned and faced the wall, and I said to him ‘What’s the matter lovely?’ and he wouldn’t answer. And I actually said ‘come on Sam’, because he wasn’t a tactile child, and I asked him “what’s the matter” and he said “Oh I’m going to miss you”. (Jessie)

9  Future contact:  Differing Practice: maintaining contact, pretence of future contact and no contact. “We often have kids call in if they are out cycling. They’ll pop in and say hello.” (Valerie) “They [social services] don’t really encourage you to keep in contact you know?” (Jessie)

10  The ingredients of a positive ending:  Resolved family problems: “ I think a child that was sorry to leave because we’d got on well and we’d had fun but happy to leave because they know things are right at home now.” (Jessie)  Opportunity for planning and communication:  Gradual withdrawal  Contrast with Practice

11  Supports factors highlighted by carers.  Close relationships and attachments are possible and endings can be emotionally challenging for all involved. Both carers and service users may require additional support.  Managerial attention paid to the management of endings and maintenance of contact.

12  Following 10 families through their Support Care ‘journey’.  Exploring perceptions and experiences of all involved, i.e. children, parents, carers and social workers.  Further information available.

13  Louise Roberts Cardiff University


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