Social work recording: Safeguarding disclosure
- Victoria – Social Worker
- Roweena – Service user, 78, with some fluctuating mental health problems and difficulties with mobility.
- Sharon – Homecare worker
Victoria has been called to the home of Roweena, a 78 year-old woman who lives alone, with few opportunities for getting out or socialising. She gets quite a lot of support from her neighbour, Janet, who does the weekly shop for her, and then stops for a cup of coffee and a chat. The home care worker, Sharon, has told Victoria that she thinks Janet is not giving Roweena the proper change – for a couple of weeks now she has been unable to tally up what Roweena says she gives Janet with what Janet returns to her.
[SCENE: ROWEENA’S HOME]
[DOORBELL. DOOR OPENS.]
Sharon: Ah, hello – are you the social worker? I’m Sharon, Roweena’s home care worker.
Victoria: Oh, hi, yes. I’m Victoria. Thanks for being here for this meeting.
Sharon: No problem, follow me through to the lounge. Roweena’s ready and waiting.
[SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS, ENTERING THE LOUNGE.]
Sharon: (talking loudly) Roweena, this is the social worker. Her name’s Victoria.
Victoria: Hello, Roweena. If I speak at this volume, can you hear me okay?
Roweena: I’ve got a hearing aid. I can hear you quite well. Thank you.
Victoria: That’s great. Can I ask, do you know why I’m here today?
Roweena: Sharon asked you to come.
Sharon: It’s about Janet, Roweena. You remember, we talked about it? Janet’s been stealing your money.
Roweena: She hasn’t been stealing my money. She’s a good friend.
Victoria: Are you happy that Sharon stays here during the interview?
Roweena: She can if she likes.
Victoria: Janet’s your neighbour, is that right?
Roweena: Lives at number 38, yes. She’s a good friend to me. Does my shopping every week.
Sharon: (Muttering, almost under her breath) She takes advantage of you, is what she does.
Victoria: If it’s okay with you, Sharon, I’d like to hear everything from Roweena.
Sharon: Roweena doesn’t want to believe me when I say Janet’s been short changing her. But I’ve done the maths. There’s no doubt in my mind that Janet is stealing. The problem is, sometimes she says it’s okay for Janet to take a little for herself and tells me to keep my nose out of it. But other times, I’ve come round and she’s been in tears… worried she’s being taken for a ride. That’s why I called you. I don’t know what to do about it!
Victoria: Right, okay, I’ll make a note that you’ve noticed a discrepancy between the cost of the shopping and the amount of change returned. I’ll also make a note of Roweena’s mixed feelings and changing viewpoint.
Sharon: I’ve asked Janet to provide receipts for the shopping, but she always ‘forgets’. I’ve told Roweena, I know how much a weekly shop costs, and I don’t think it’s right for Janet to take advantage. Friend or no friend.
Victoria: Roweena, do you want to tell me a bit more about Janet?
Roweena: She’s a lovely lady, lives at number 38. She does my shopping for me. Only person round these parts who bothers to call in for a chat. It’s not like the old days. I was taught to respect my elders, look out for people who are lonely.
Sharon: You’re not lonely, Roweena! I’m here every other day!
Roweena: Yes, yes… you’re all right. But Janet isn’t paid to visit, she’s a friend.
Sharon: I would say she’s paying herself from your change!
Roweena: She’s bringing up 2 daughters on her own. If she takes a little bit extra from doing my shopping, I don’t mind. I have no need for money at my age.
Sharon: This is what I’ve been trying to explain to her. I do her household accounts, you see. So I know that she does need the money… she might not be able to pay all her bills otherwise. But, it’s like I say… I get mixed messages from Roweena… sometimes I’m accused of being nosey, other times she wants my help. I’m just trying to do my best for her, do a good job.
Victoria: (to Roweena:) Okay, okay, so, Janet’s a friend?
Roweena: She brings my shopping and then we have a coffee and a chat. I can’t get out much, so it’s nice to have someone take the time to listen to me. You know, I don’t doubt that she takes a bit of extra from the change. But I don’t mind. It’s just a little petrol money, I should think. Just a little something for her time. I don’t mind, I don’t know why Sharon has made such a fuss about it. I really don’t.
Sharon: Someone’s got to look out for your interests, Roweena. It’s simply wrong to take money without asking. It’s stealing. I’m sure Victoria will agree with me that we need to put a stop to it, don’t you Victoria?
Victoria: Em, I would really like to hear what you want, Roweena and to make sure you’re safe.
Roweena: She wants me to stop seeing Janet. Says she’ll find someone trustworthy to do my shopping for me.
Victoria: And what do you want?
Roweena: I’m happy with how things are. I like Janet. I don’t see what business it is of Sharon’s if I choose to give her a little petrol money.
Sharon: Stealing is stealing in my book. Janet should be stopped from seeing you, Roweena, she’s clearly taking advantage. I’m half-minded to call the police on her if we don’t get this sorted today.
Roweena: I don’t want the police involved!
Victoria: Em, Sharon, I think we need to look into this very carefully. Rowena would you like me to speak to Janet, ask her if she’s been taking some change for petrol?
Roweena: I don’t want any fuss. I like Janet, she listens to me. I don’t care about the money!
Sharon: This is exactly what I’m talking about. When we talked about it, and I suggested getting Janet round here you clearly said that you did want all your change from shopping.
Roweena: Yes, yes… I know what I said. I’m allowed to change my mind, aren’t I?
Sharon: I just don’t understand why you’d say one thing to me, and another thing to the social worker.
Roweena: Okay, okay. So I don’t like the idea of Janet taking money, but I didn’t want all this fuss. I certainly don’t want the police involved. I want to keep seeing Janet, she’s been a good friend to me. She probably just has some money troubles at the moment, that’s all.
Victoria: Would you feel comfortable talking to Janet about the change that’s gone missing?
Roweena: Well I’d rather not. She’s a friend. You don’t go around accusing friends of stealing. Not if you want to keep them.
Victoria: Okay, I understand. Well I’d like to talk to my manager about this and probably have a chat with Janet to find out what is happening. There might be a different way of approaching this. I could ask my manager about the possibility of a personal budget for you to pay someone, possibly even Janet, formally for doing the shopping for you.
Roweena: I can’t afford more help. This one… Sharon… she says I can’t even afford my bills… I can’t budget to pay Janet…
Victoria: Ok, a Personal Budget is money that is allocated to you by the local authority. If we assess that you need help with your shopping, then we can provide you with the funds to pay for Janet. The point of the Personal Budget is that you have a say in how the money is spent… so, if you want Janet to continue doing your shopping, you’d be able to pay for her time through a personal budget.
Roweena: Sounds like charity to me.
Victoria: Oh no, Rowena, it’s not charity. If we make an assessment that you need the support, it’s money you’re entitled to.
Roweena: Well, I suppose… in theory it sounds like a solution. I mean, if Janet’s having money troubles, it would be good to think I could help her out a bit.
Sharon: This is ludicrous! I can’t honestly believe what you’re suggesting. This is a terrible solution you’re proposing. You’d just be rewarding a thief.
Victoria: We’d need to look into this closely to see what has been happening here. If it’s appropriate, and with everyone’s agreement that it is in your best interests (Used here in a general sense and not in a MCA context), Roweena, we could look into a personal budget. But just as one option – I’d need to talk to my manager. It’s clear to me that Roweena wants to keep seeing Janet, so we need to factor that in, while making sure Roweena is safe.
Roweena: If it’s possible, I think it would be a good idea. I would like to pay for Janet’s trouble, if it was all done properly. I just don’t like the idea that she’s taking from me without asking.
Sharon: I want you to make a note of my objection. I think Janet has taken advantage of a vulnerable old woman and should not be rewarded for it. I’m sure you know best, of course, but if I were a social worker I think I should put a stop to the whole situation, not encourage it.
Victoria: I understand your concerns, Sharon. It is just one option. I
Sharon: I want it on record that I disagree with it. If something goes wrong, on your head be it. Not mine. I brought the situation to the proper authorities attention. That’s all I’m saying.
Victoria: You did the right thing to report it, Sharon – now we have to do the right thing by Roweena. Try to find a solution that works for everyone and respects Roweena’s wish to keep seeing Janet.
Roweena: I don’t want to fall out with anyone. I’m sorry if I’ve upset you Sharon. I just want to keep seeing my friends. I know you’re trying to look out for me. Maybe we can sort it out with this budget thingy and not have any more fuss. That’s what I would like – no more fuss.
Victoria: Okay then, leave it with me. I’ll make a note of our conversation and arrange to meet with Janet… if that’s okay with you, Roweena?
Roweena: I don’t want you accusing her of stealing.
Victoria: No, I’ll approach her as your friend, Roweena. I’m sure she’ll understand that I’m just trying to look out for you.
Roweena: Okay, okay. I understand. Yes.
Victoria: … and I will talk to my manager about the various options. I’ll be back in touch if we need to do a more formal assessment.
Roweena: I don’t want to be a bother and I really don’t want any more fuss… but if you think it will help sort things out…?
Sharon: Is that it, then? Is that all you’re going to do?
Victoria: For now, yes. Thank you for bringing the situation to our attention. We’ll find a solution that works.
Sharon: Right, well I’d better show you out then. You have made a record of my objections, I trust. I really really don’t think this right.
Victoria: I’ll make a note of your concerns and with Roweena’s permission I’ll report back to you with the decisions we have taken and why.
Sharon: That’s it then. I guess there’s nothing more I can do. I will be keeping a keen eye on things.
Victoria: Yes, that would be very helpful thank you. Don’t you agree, Roweena?
Roweena: Yes. I do appreciate you looking after me Sharon.
Sharon: Thank you. Right, okay then. I’ll show you out.
Victoria: Thank you. Nice to meet you Roweena.
[END OF SCENARIO.]
How would you record the events?
11.07.17 – I visited Rowena at 10.30 at the request of her home care worker Sharon Gibb from Alpha Care Agency.
Rowena has a daily home care package to help get her up in the morning and to prepare meals for the day.
Sharon let me in and introduced herself and I thanked her for agreeing to be present at the meeting. I then went and introduced myself to Rowena and asked he if she was happy for Sharon to be present at the meeting. She confirmed that she was. (Person centred)
I checked that Rowena could hear me and she told me that she had a hearing aid and that she could hear me very well.
I asked Rowena if she knew why I was here today and she said it was because Sharon had asked her to come.
Sharon then said that Janet, Rowena’s neighbour who lived at number 38, had been shopping for Rowena and had been “stealing her money“. Sharon went on to explain that she believed that Janet was not giving back the correct change and when asked for a receipt she said that she ‘forgets’. Sharon said that she knew what the shopping should cost and was sure there was a discrepancy. Sharon wanted the situation stopped and wanted to involve the police. She told Rowena that she was looking out for her interests.
I asked Rowena to tell me what she thought about the situation. Rowena said that Janet was a good friend, that she did her shopping for her once a week and then stayed for a coffee and a chat. She did not want to make a fuss and she did not want to involve the police.
Rowena then went on to say that she didn’t “doubt that she (Janet) takes a bit extra from the change“. She said that she did not mind as she (Janet) was a single mum and had two daughters to bring up. (Accurate)
Rowena said that she wanted to go on seeing Janet but she did not like the idea of Janet taking the money.
I proposed that I discuss the situation with my line manager, to look into what was happening in a bit more detail and have a conversation with Janet. Rowena was happy for me to proceed on that basis. (Holistic)
I also discussed the possibility of a personal budget with Rowena so that she could pay a neighbour to get her shopping. This could be Janet if, after looking into the situation in a little more detail, this was deemed to be appropriate and what Rowena wanted.
Sharon was opposed to this idea saying that in her opinion this would be rewarding a thief. She asked me to make a note of her objection which I agreed to. I thanked her for bringing this matter to my attention which has enabled us to look into the situation in a little more detail to find out what is going on. (Accurate)
I agreed to come back to Rowena early next week, before Janet’s next visit. I will share my proposals re next steps with both Rowena and Sharon if Rowena agrees to this.
Sharon has concerns which she is quite right to raise. We do not know as yet as to whether Janet is taking money that she has no right to or whether this is a mistake on either side. We do know that Rowena enjoys Janet’s company and if possible wants the visits to continue but would rather give money rather than it be taken.
As Janet is not visiting for a few days this gives me a little time to look into this in more detail so we can be clearer about what is happening and whether there is any risk for Rowena.
I propose to take the following actions:
- discuss the situation with my line manager
- have a safeguarding discussion with the Safeguarding Lead
- agree the next steps and who should act on them.
When we have agreed a way forward I feel that I should go back to Sharon and Alpha Care agency. There is a potential for Sharon to be confused as to what has happened and why we are looking into the situation in more detail before taking any action and why we are taking our lead from Rowena. Rowena has capacity to take decisions, including unwise decisions, but we also need to help her to fully understand what is happening and help her to manage any risks.