Lucy Davis, mental health social worker talks about her role supporting people with learning disabilities and autism this Autism Awareness Month.
My name is Lucy Davis and I’m a social worker in the mental health team based in Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
My role is to empower and enable adults with a range of complex illnesses and disabilities to live as independently as possible and support the most vulnerable in our communities. I primarily support people with learning disabilities and autism.
I work with clients to carry out assessments and together we identify personalised care and support plans to minimise risk, as well as maintaining and improving their quality of life. It’s client led and families are very much central to all of the assessment process and plans.
A care plan could consist of someone needing support in the home to help them take medication, make meals; providing respite for their carers etc. Some plans may have enabling to support clients to go out into the community safely and access appointments or activities.
For clients with more complex needs care plans can include supporting them to move into Independent Supported Living services. This supports people with learning disabilities and mental health issues to move out of their family home into their own tenancy with the right level of support to meet their needs. I’m often part of multi-disciplinary teams, working alongside other specialists. This includes community learning disability nurses, for example, if a client is struggling with hygiene, or a special educational needs coordinator, when a young person is leaving school.
Another key aspect to working with clients with complex learning disabilities and autism is assessing capacity. This is done on a regular basis to ensure that any decisions made are done following the legal framework and procedures. This way of working also ensures that the best possible outcome is met for clients and even if they are unable to make the decision themselves, their wishes are always listened to and taken into account.
The biggest challenge during covid is that we are much busier and we’re doing less home visits with clients due to the risk of spreading covid-19. It’s a real challenge as most of our clients have communication difficulties and using technology such as video conferencing doesn’t work as well. This has meant that at times we have to rely on information provided by others which is not how I like to work. However, this is something we do risk assess and prioritise for essential home visits.
I’ve also seen an increase in more complex and crisis situations due to clients not being able to see family and friends, closure of day services and respite services and increasing demands on their carers so it’s great these are now starting to open again.
The best thing about being a social worker is the people. I enjoy getting to know my clients and supporting them to meet their goals. The support I receive from my team is a huge benefit too. It is a very social role with high demands. I love a challenge and overcoming barriers would not be possible without the great support from my colleagues and other services I work with.
It’s important that anyone thinking about being a social worker takes the time to find out about what it involves. It comes with a lot of positives such as being part of an elite front-line professional body, gaining knowledge in areas you never thought you would need to know about and although challenging, you will meet some amazing people throughout your career.
Find out more about adult social care on our website https://www.northumbria.nhs.uk/our-services/adult-social-care/