The numbers behind the job


Regular blogger Dan Mushens looks at the many statistics behind working in social care

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4th July 2019 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

It was August 2014 when I started working in Penumbra’s alcohol related brain damage (ARBD) service in Glasgow, Wednesday the 20th to be precise. Nearly five years have since passed which makes this my second longest job. Two years short of the seven that I spent making cars at the Nissan car plant in Sunderland.

On the subject of numbers and statistics, data regarding the prevalence of ARBD is notoriously difficult to ascertain, so I thought I’d have a go at looking at the ARBD related numbers behind my own job role. It’s not an exact science but it gives a general snapshot of who we are and what we do.

As a recovery practitioner working in a small collaborative team, I promote recovery in the homes and communities of 10 individuals with a diagnosis of ARBD. On average I complete 20 shifts a month, working five days out of seven while making 48 home visits which we refer to as support sessions.

I try to have one office based day a week allocated for admin tasks and supervisory responsibilities. I tend to have about two cancellations a month which gives me a bit of extra downtime for additional admin or ad-hoc meetings with colleagues.

Despite having a diagnosis of ARBD, three of the 10 supported people continue to consume alcohol each day. Five have been abstinent for six months or longer and two are currently residing in a detox setting hoping to begin a sustained period of alcohol free living upon discharge.

Of the two people who still drink, their daily routines and behaviours differ slightly; one person drinks 12 cans of lager, the second drinks a mixture of lager, cider and vodka while the third prefers either a bottle of rum or red wine which will last them 2 days.

Around 22 of my support sessions will take place solely in the home setting with the remaining 26 involving venturing out into the local community. Five of these will be to support people to various healthcare appointments, the remaining 21 will usually be for recreational and leisure purposes.

To promote better mobility and nutritional outcomes, a popular social activity is to go for walks and visit cafes, I’ll visit about 17 of them over the month meaning 17 additional cups of tea or coffee will be drunk, on top of my usual intake.

About eight support sessions in the community each week will often focus on playing pool in three different venues across Glasgow. I’ll play around 29 games of pool in this time, losing more than what I win. A game of pool can tell a lot about how ARBD affects someone, it can act as an informal assessment method.

During my four admin days per month, there’ll probably be two team meetings to attend and one service development meeting. Over that four-week period I’ll either receive supervision from my line manager or offer supervision to one or two of my supervisees.

Working alone is a regular part of the job so logging in and out of the company’s lone-working telephone system will constitute the majority of the 161 phone calls I make from my work phone each month. The remainder will be to colleagues, partner agencies and other people involved in the care and support of our supported people.

Dan Mushens

Dan Mushens

I’ll receive about 112 emails a month, and half will be internal with the other half being from care managers and colleagues from other services. I’ll send around 137 emails mainly to update relevant people regarding our supported people’s recovery, progress in relation to their identified goals and plans for the week ahead.

Not everyone has access to email outwith the office so text messaging is still used to communicate things to colleagues, instantly but discreetly as not to disrupt the support session they may be facilitating or meeting they may be attending. I’ll send just 16 or so text messages a month.

Our supported living service offers support to people citywide and as I generally use my own vehicle to commute, I often travel about 190 miles a month for work purposes spending around £47 on parking fees.

Of the 10 supported people, all of them have a named care manager and nine of them have input from family to some degree although most of these connections have been damaged over the years. One person has no close family at all.

The support we deliver ranges from just 2 hours per week to 21 hours per week, from one day a week to seven days a week. Support times vary and can be flexible to accommodate requests, but the bulk of our work is completed between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

Each supported person has a mobile phone but only five of them are currently able to send a text message. One person is female, nine are male and their ages range from 45 to 69.

In the five years I’ve been in this job role, the service has received around 14 referrals with four people sadly passing away in that time. Our most recent inspection from the Care Inspectorate led to the highest grade of 6 being awarded in all the areas that were assessed.

six people are smokers which can often lead to about four support sessions a week ending prematurely due to their home not being deemed a safe environment for staff. Smoking is known to reduce the speed of cognitive recovery from ARBD, something we regularly highlight when promoting the benefits of living smoke-free.

Seven people have so far chosen to use their support to write their own recovery story which can be a good way to build rapport in the early stages of support. I also try to write one general interest article a month to play my own small part in contributing towards raising awareness of ARBD.

Our service promotes the benefits of peer support in three distinct ways. We have a peer volunteer which our supported people can access, a peer worker has recently been added to the team and we also host drop-in sessions to allow supported people to come together.

We also try to facilitate joint support sessions allowing multiple supported people to meet for lunch, play pool or ten pin bowling or go on day trips together etc. This probably happens about three times a month but is an area we’re passionately trying to nurture.

We work closely with our ARBD supported accommodation service in the north of the city and two times a year we host an open day. The Christmas 2018 event was a great success and I’m sure our upcoming summer open day on 25 July will be even better.

It’s often said a picture can tell a thousand stories, but statistics can give a numerical analysis of a thousand words.

Dan Mushens is a recovery practitioner for Scottish mental health charity Penumbra

5th July 2019 by Dave Young

.Dan gives a penetrating insight into the internal workings of Penumbra and the successes and failures of its care workers. Clearly Penumbra have in many cases prevented or contained relapses. In the cases of those in for short-term rehab they are diligent in visiting them in hospital, and some of the clients themselves have visited their fellow clients