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Socially Distanced From Being Socially Responsible

, , , , , | Working | November 24, 2020

I work on the reception of a children’s prison. Due to current global events, we have restricted the number of visits we can have to the prison per week to allow for social distancing and for the visiting room to be cleaned between visits, etc. To make sure that it’s fair and that all children are getting visits relatively equally, each child can only have one professional and one family visit per week — as well as unlimited phone calls and some video calls.

A social worker calls and asks to book a visit to see a child. I apologise, explain the above, and tell them that another professional has a visit booked this week for that child, so the social worker will have to call next week to visit next week.

Social Worker: “But my visit is very important!”

Me: “I understand, but [Other Professional] has already booked a visit. Can you discuss this with [Child] by video call?”

Social Worker: “It’s a statutory visit. I have to see them in person once per month, and next week is the start of the next calendar month!”

Me: “I know other professionals have had this issue, and I’m sorry, but we have found that most authorities are understanding what with the national guidance.”

Social Worker: “Oh. Well… when is [Other Professional]’s visit?”

Me: “Friday.”

Social Worker: “Oh, that’s perfect!”

Me: “Sorry, because of national guidelines on households mixing, you and [Other Professional] can’t visit together; you need to book your own slot.”

Social Worker: “Oh, I don’t want to come with her!”

Me: “Erm, okay?”

Social Worker: “I can come Friday instead of [Other Professional]. You said she’d understand.”

Me: “No? Sorry, no, I can’t let you cancel someone else’s appointment.”

Social Worker: “I can talk to [Other Professional].”

Me: “Yes. Okay. You speak to [Other Professional], and if they ring me to cancel the appointment, I’ll ring you to let you know the slot is free.”

The social worker agreed. The other professional did not call to cancel their appointment.

The social worker in this post is not representative of all social workers, who, in my experience, tend to be excellent, hard-working, and understanding people. This one was just entitled.

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