There are many thousands of vulnerable adults who have mental health problems or learning difficulties and who need help and support to either continue living in their own homes or to be found the right kind of residential care. Looking after adults with mental health problems can be a very rewarding career choice in social work, as you can often build up a good rapport and a strong bond with your client over the months or even years that you are working with them. Again, social workers who choose to specialise in this field will need to have a lot of patience and be good listeners, as often people with these problems have a difficulty expressing themselves and their needs.
Social work and care in the home
The ideal situation is to find a way that adults with mental health problems or learning difficulties can stay in their own home. They may need a lot of support to achieve this and sometimes residential care may be a better alternative. However, a social worker can arrange for social carers to visit the client to help them manage their medication, supervise simple household tasks and help them with bills and benefit payments. The social worker themselves will visit their client at home regularly to check on their progress and will often arrange for days out with other vulnerable adults in a similar situation. If the vulnerable adult is still living at home with their family, part of the social worker’s job is to arrange respite care for their parents. It can be tiring, emotionally and physically, to take care of someone full time and there are short-term units where vulnerable adults and those with mental health problems can spend just a day or a couple of nights to give their family a break.
Social work and residential care
Sometimes the situation has deteriorated so much that the vulnerable adult is no longer capable of looking after themselves in their own home. The social worker would be involved in assessing this, along with the client and their family, and would then help to find somewhere for them to stay. The most common alternative is supported living. The vulnerable adult, with the support of their social worker and family, would move into their own flat in a block that has several social workers and carers also living in the building. They would be there to help in an emergency and would also pop in to check up on their new residents. Social workers living in these blocks would be responsible for keeping their client safe and secure and providing a happy and comfortable living environment.
Days out with the client
One of the most fun aspects of social work comes in the days out you can arrange for just yourself and your client. As you get to know them, you get to know their interests and can organise trips that they would really enjoy, but would never manage to make by themselves without becoming upset or lost; to a football match or a live music concert, for example. These days out are not just fun, but they help with the bonding process between social worker and client.