A slightly belated happy New Year to everyone and welcome to a new decade. In the spirit of the time of year I will offer a review of the year as it has affected me personally and professionally before I look into my social care crystal ball to offer some predictions for the year or decade to come.
Firstly the personal and professional. 2009 saw me finally get my break as an unqualified care manager via a secondment opportunity from mid-January to mid-October. I then ended my almost five year association with the authority at the end of October. The end came as I had two years previously, fresh out of a relationship and into career doldrums, decided to apply for an MSc in Social Policy which I deferred for a year. Just after taking up my place at the beginning of October, using reserves of annual leave to attend lectures, I was interviewed for and offered a permanent care management post, the catch was that they couldn’t accommodate my request for part-time hours. This resulted in an agonising overnight decision with much tossing and turning in bed. I had been attempting since 2006 to obtain a care management post but I had started the MSc and was enjoying it as policy had been a particular interest of mine. I decided that my long-term goal of a job in a policy capacity would best be achieved by remaining on the course. I also felt the need of a change of scenery to rejuvenate me so I handed in my notice.
As of now I am still on the course, I am also achieving pass marks but, as it has been seven years since my last determined academic effort I have found the going tough. The Christmas break ended today and I have a deadline approaching in a couple of weeks for an essay on New Social Risks. I am working harder than ever before, working in a call centre four days a week and spending late nights in the library. I have now cut work down to three days and have had a chance to relax a bit over Christmas – though it has awakened memories of being able to put my feet up in the evenings.
Part of my course has involved learning about comparative social policy, the practice of comparing welfare regimes across the continent. The logic of this is that there is only so much you can learn about a welfare state by studying it in isolation. So it is with work. Leaving the field has been a learning experience in itself. In my call centre role, the one change I notice is the lack of pressure. This struck me just before Christmas. Local weather conditions conspired to leave the city resembling an ice rink in the morning. As I slid to work amidst surreal scenes of abandoned cars and pedestrians trudging in the road, car and bicycle travel an impossibility, I passed a warden assisted block. I suddenly thought of my former colleagues. Some of them would have arrived in the office, found half their colleagues hadn’t been able to get in. Then the calls would begin. Carers would be unable to get into work so clients would not get their visits. Med prompts, meals and personal care would be seriously delayed or missed. Someone would need to establish which calls were really, really essential and try to get a stretched Rapid Response team to visit. The day care bus wouldn’t have been able to get round, people would need to have something to eat as they wouldn’t eat at day centre, Meals on Wheels would also be affected so that wouldn’t be an option……… I sent one of my friends in my old team a text to say I was thinking of her. I knew what sort of day she would be having. Heroic.