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Evaluation of the Implementation of Local Area Co-ordination in Scotland



- by Sylvia Thomson, Fife

Whilst having a shower at 7 a.m. the LAC remembered she still had to type up an introduction to an article prepared by John. The article was to be submitted for publication in a local magazine. John had multiple sclerosis and had been struggling to come to terms with this. Now after a few months of chatting to his LAC he had got his life back together. He no longer needed a social worker and he was even doing voluntary work and helping people with mental health issues. He had written about his experiences for a local magazine and the LAC had said she would work on the introduction and let him see it first thing this morning. By 7.55 a.m. the completed version was emailed to John. She said she would see him later at St Paul's Church and he could give her his opinion about the introduction.

Arriving at the office at 8.20 a.m. the LAC began preparing information to take with her on a Home Visit she was due to make at 9.30 a.m. There were also various "office" phone calls and emails to be dealt with. The LAC prioritised them and tried to deal with those that required immediate attention but time and circumstances were against her. At 8.45 a.m. she received a phone call from Amanda, a lady in her mid-thirties with a physical disability, learning and mental health difficulties. Amanda was crying and very upset. She had received a Court Summons for non-payment of money and was very frightened. Someone from a money-lending company was also coming to see her later this morning and she didn't know what to do. The LAC spoke on the phone to her for about half and hour and arranged to see her at 10.30 a.m. that morning.

At the first Home Visit the LAC discussed information about some taster classes on Complementary Therapies and Numeracy and Literacy that she had sourced out for Mary, a young 17 year old girl with mild learning disabilities. She also gave her information about a Youth Club and an organisation called The Place, which is a Youth Health and Advice Centre for people aged between 12 and 25. She listened to Mary and to mum's concerns about Mary and suggested they look over the information. The LAC used her mobile phone to set up appointments at the Learning Centre for the taster classes that Mary wanted to find out more about and arranged to take Mary there next week.

Back in her car the LAC scribbled some brief notes in Mary's "To Do" list and her "Information Sheet" then arrived at Amanda's at 10.30 a.m. The next 2_ hours were spent listening to Amanda, giving her hugs and cups of tea and reassuring her that she would not go to jail. At the end of that time an appointment had been made to see the Money Advisor at Citizen's Advice. The LAC then supported Amanda to complete some housing forms and while they were doing this, the representative from the money-lending company called at the house. With the LAC's support Amanda was able to explain her financial situation to him and he said his company would not be writing to her or giving her any further harassment.

The LAC dashed back to the office, scribbled some notes in Amanda's sheets, grabbed a sandwich and then headed back out. She had promised to hand in some Local Area Co-ordination leaflets to the Local Area Office in Cadham and she wanted to pop into the Community Centre there just to keep in touch with the Centre staff and see if there were any new initiatives happening. After doing this the LAC called at Ronnie's house in Cadham for a pre-arranged visit at 2.30 p.m. but there was no answer. Ronnie had learning disabilities and was struggling to live in his own tenancy. The LAC made a couple of phone calls to try to locate him, called through the letterbox and eventually put a note through the door to say she had been there and she would phone him later.

The LAC went back to her car. She knew that a mountain of non- LAC work was waiting to greet her in the office. There was a large pile of information, publications and other material to be read. There were several Health Department bulletins, Information Services bulletins, Social Work Key Activity Reports, Minutes from Extended Management meetings and other correspondence in the emails that hadn't been looked at yet. The pile was growing by the day! It can all wait, she thought.

Instead of returning to the office the LAC went to Age Concern to make enquiries about their advert for Volunteer Drivers as she had someone who had been expressing an interest in this. While she was there the LAC phoned the person who was able to speak to the Transport Co-ordinator at Age Concern. A time was arranged for her to come down, have a chat, and get more information. The LAC then popped into St Paul's Church Hall to catch up with John. He was there as a volunteer helping out in a Mental Health Group that was hiring the hall at that time. He had wanted her to pop into the Group for a while for a cup of tea and a chat as they were having problems with their committee.

Now back at the office at 4.15 p.m. The LAC wanted to phone James to make sure everything was in place for his Presentation Dinner tomorrow evening. She had introduced James to another man who was willing to befriend him and he was pleased to have been invited by James to go with him to the Dinner. She also had information she had to source out for an Information Assistant in Enquiry and Information and a couple of letters had to be done to accompany some LAC literature that she had promised to send out. Finally, she tried to contact a Volunteer Co-ordinator to get more information about a project that she felt might be of interest to other people she was supporting.

Just as she was ready to leave the office at 5.20 p.m. her phone rang. It was Tom's mum and dad who were interested in any information she had about Person Centred Plans with a view to possibly having one done for Tom. The LAC had been trying to arrange a time she could meet with the family to give them this information. Everyone would be at home tonight. Would 7.30 p.m. suit to come over? Certainly. We'll have the kettle on, for you coming, they said. The LAC put together the information she would need for that evening. She checked her diary for tomorrow. There wasn't a lot of writing on the page, but that didn't mean anything!

The LAC left the office at 5.45 p.m. her mind in a whirl already thinking ahead to her visit that evening and work she had to do tomorrow. She had to find activities for an 11 year old boy with autism, find out about parenting classes for a family, attend a school drop-in and sort out paperwork for the extension of the Complementary Therapy pilot. One thing was for sure; no two days were ever the same in this job.

As she walked to her car the LAC reflected again how fortunate she had been to be given the opportunity to support people in this way. Maybe tomorrow she would be able to find the time to tackle all those bulletins, publications and Minutes as well. But there again, maybe not!