What a day! It was mad from beginning to the end! Clients were either so demanding or very intoxicated- or both. You would have thought that we had had at least 50 clients in but actually the numbers were average. At Ben’s we take the approach with clients that they have to take responsibility for themselves. We are there to help and to signpost them to others who can help too, but until they themselves realise that actually they need to do this, it often seems like an uphill climb. Stepping in to bale them out every time is not the answer. Many people who do want to help, often misguidedly, take over the responsibility of something the clients’s should be doing for themselves. We remind them often that they are not children and the decisions they make do have consequences! It isn’t in the long term doing anything to help them address their lives. It often seems very hard, even for us doing it, but we know from experience that this is the best way forward. We know they may fail many times, as we all do, but in the trying and failing we learn. Catching them every time they fall and trying to save them to be honest does make you feel as though you have achieved something in the short run but they will expect that every time. This is impossible to keep up and also does not address any issue other than the surface ones. It is like putting a small plaster over a deep wound It may give some temporary relief but the plaster will come off eventually and the wound will still be there and probably worse for not being treated appropriately.
One client had lost a set of clothing we had given him and was asking for more. We pointed out to him that he either had to find these clothes or wash some. We do have facilities here to do this. We gave him a change of underwear and he was not that happy. Clients wanted to use the phone and were waving letters at us that should have been dealt with earlier in the day or in some cases months! Another client kept bursting into song anytime you looked at him which was ok the first few times but as the day wore on you began to feel if you heard another song your head would just come off. In the middle of the chaos there was a rumour going round that one of our clients had died. We later learn that this was true. We all felt very sad at the news. Whenever we hear news like this, client’s anxieties often seems to manifest by being more demanding! Some clients had missed the Christmas lunch and wanted a present that everyone had had who had been there. We make a point that if they aren’t there for the dinner then there is no present. Again this sounds harsh but it would be a logistical nightmare to give them out afterwards. One very intoxicated client kept asking for his and was told he could have one…next Christmas. He saw the funny side and left quietly swearing! When the door closed it was to a sigh of relief from all the staff. We had some lovely comments today back from the course we all did in “Managing Conflict with Service Users”. They thought we were a marvellous team and were very touched by the empathy shown and the very high standard our team had displayed. It certainly was an excellent course and has helped us all, especially on days like today. We need to be reminded of this as you can lose your perspective very easily and become discouraged.