A Day in The Life: An Engage Women’s Service Practitioner

A blog by Patricia from our Engage Women's service, giving an insight into the important work being undertaken with women who have been in custody or had contact with the criminal justice system.

6am – C O F F E E ( Bucket loads!)

6.05 – Now I can Function.!

After a busy morning, the School run, Creche drop-off, my “work-hat” is ON!

My working day has changed significantly since the outbreak of Covid-19 – I have adapted to remote working since March 2020.

With the house to myself (eventually), my office space which has been relocated to under the stairs allows me to ignore the ever-growing laundry basket and focus on my role as practitioner in a very busy service.

A caseload of 13 women keeps me busy, offering regular individual sessions, group work and multi-agency working.

Emails answered, appointments confirmed, WhatsApp messages sent, another coffee and time for the first scheduled sessions of the day. First off is a professional contact meeting regarding a new referral to the Engage Women’s Service. This initial contact allows the Probation Officer and I to discuss the outlined objectives of the referral and case history, along with an agreement to maintain contact with PBNI, with the service user’s permission.

Next, I have an arranged video call with a new service-user, initially referred by Probation Board Northern Ireland (PBNI) – staff introductions and a detailed service overview allows an opportunity for “Service-user A” to chat about her current situation and highlight support needs. In consultation with “Service User A” we agreed to complete an initial assessment and implement a Care-plan allowing therapeutic interventions and practical support within an 8 week time-frame.

11am – Zoom Time! – My fellow Engage Practitioner, and I, facilitate a Women Only WRAP Group – Wellness Recovery Action Plan – a no holds barred forum for focused discussion on issues around mental health, addiction, recovery, wellness. It flies by like a breeze, the allocated 45mins is never enough, so we continue our chat in another Zoom, as COVID-19 rears its ugly head, discussion turns to coping strategies and survival in isolation ,restrictions and lockdowns. As a group of Women we share this common bond, discussing life in lockdown and the trials and tribulations of “staying at home” and what the implications are for women, particularly for those who are isolated and struggling with their emotional health.

Lunchtime – Consists of a quick bite, a load of washing and a school-pick up!

1pm – Telephone call with PBNI providing case overview, highlighting the positive progress made to date by a service-user (consent provided). I agreed to explore a referral to an appropriate substance use service as a as a pathway for this service user to better manage her alcohol use.

1.15pm – Updates on my Client Information system and session notes of all my all contacts today. As a professional, this is a vital part of my daily routine, ensuring all contacts, calls, texts, emails, correspondences, sessions, group work and meetings are recorded. “If it’s not recorded – It didn’t happen”!!!!

2pm – Arranged telephone call with “Service-User .’’ It was evident this woman was under the influence of alcohol and was extremely distressed, crying and shouting over the phone. I immediately became concerned regarding what she was saying about her life not worth living and she advised she was suicidal. After informing her of my concerns and my obligations to make her safe, I called PSNI, forwarded my concerns and requested a Welfare Check straightaway. The PSNI obtained my contact number and agreed to inform me of the outcome. I informed the service user of my actions and attempted to keep in contact with her, however she would not answer my calls and texts. This left me feeling concerned all afternoon.

I then made a call to my Line Manager to discuss this case and agreed to feedback when I had further information. I also agreed to send her a significant incident report by the end of the day. We discussed my anxiety and she reassured me I had done everything I could.

10 minutes of silence to gather my thoughts! Ok, time to record all this information!

3pm – Last Individual session of the day - telephone call with “Service-User C.’’ She is generally upbeat but today her tone was different. I sensed she was upset, upon further exploration she disclosed she has just discovered a close family member was terminally ill. With limited family support, “Service-User C” needed to explore her feelings about this. She was emotional and I encouraged her to cry and express her feelings about this news.

All I did was listen and sometimes that is all that is required at times. It can be that simple, an act of human kindness… just…to …listen.

An empathetic ear and emotional support are vital to all Engage Clients who are facing challenges in their lives.

4.30pm – Call received from PSNI providing update of requested Welfare Check – As ambulance was called and “Service-user B” was admitted to hospital as a result of overdose. I felt relieved she was safe.

4.40 – Update Line Manager, completed my report and recorded everything I needed to, on my session notes.

5pm – That’s it…. Another day of Engage ! A challenging one but one that I enjoyed.

Laptop closed, time to switch off !

5.10 – Collect the children. Let the Chaos begin!!!

Patricia Lynch, Engage Women's Service Practitioner.

For more information on the Engage Women's service please click here.