Supporting a family with learning difficulties

Rebecca is a 6 year old little girl.  She lives with her parents, Sam and Richard, who both have mild learning difficulties.   The family relocated to Suffolk about 7 months ago from in an inner London borough, where Rebecca had been the subject of a child protection plan for 4 months because of long-standing concerns about very poor home conditions and increasing worries about how her type 1 diabetes was being managed (many hospital admissions, despite intensive professional support).

As soon as it was clear that the family was settled permanently in Suffolk, the case was opened to my Child in Need team.  I’ve been the allocated lead social worker since just after the transfer-in conference, at which everyone (including Sam, Richard and Rebecca’s aunt and uncle) agreed Rebecca did still need child protection plan.  The family told me afterwards that the conference was the first time they’d properly understood exactly why everyone was so worried and what needed to change to help keep Rebecca safe and well, because everything was made so clear for them.

Over the past 7 months, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know Rebecca, trying to understand her experiences, hopes and fears.  I’ve worked with her parents to understand what has and hadn’t helped them in the past and what might make a difference now.  I’ve now completed a parenting assessment with them, which has confirmed they can keep Rebecca safe and well, with the right support.  The most important part of this has been from Rebecca’s diabetic nurse and a family support worker, who have been helping Sam and Richard to learn now to keep Rebecca’s blood sugar levels stable; they use lots of charts and diagrams which Sam and Richard say make it much easier for them to learn and remember.   I’ve supported the family hold a family network meeting and write a detailed family safety plan that complements Rebecca’s child protection plan.  Part of this is that Rebecca’s aunt and uncle now visit once a week; they help Sam and Richard keep on top of the housework and check there’s always enough of the right food and snacks for Rebecca.

Sam and Richard have been increasingly confident and vocal at each core group meeting: at the last review conference they felt able to give their own opinions about how things were going and what they and Rebecca still needed.   I make sure everyone hears and understands what Rebecca‘s views, wishes and worries are and that things are on track.  There’s still a long way to go, but Rebecca’s had only one hospital admission in the past two months and she says what makes her happy now is that there’s space in her bedroom to play.  So although it’s early days, I feel I’m helping to make a real difference in her life.

All names have been changed to protect the identity of the family involved.

What our Social Workers have to say...

Social Worker Tunde Oyeniyi
Tunde Oyeniyi

“I have been at Suffolk County Council almost 7 years and been ABE trained, completed a post qualifying specialist award in children and families with the University of East Anglia and have my Practice Educator award.”

Social Worker Jade McMurray
Jade McMurray

“There’s nothing better than when you’ve been able to make those changes and support a family along their journey and to have such a positive outcome, when you’re able to step back and let them do it for themselves.”

Social Worker Victoria Morphew
Victoria Morphew

“Working in Suffolk County Council you cross paths with lots of other professionals; everyone is really friendly and all want to build really good working relationships. You have a great network of contacts and support here.”

Social Worker Charnine De'ath
Charnine De'ath

“Our role is about getting people to see that there is something better out there for them and their children and that they are able to make the positive changes for themselves with the support of us and their family & friends - We empower families and give them the confidence to make changes”

Social Worker Leon Gillings
Leon Gillings

“I chose social work because I liked the idea how helping people whilst also being accredited as a professional. I wanted a career that was meaningful, full of challenge and diversity and that I could be proud to be a part of.”

Social Worker Cheryl Robinson
Cheryl Robinson

"I am proud to be a Social Worker in Suffolk, making a real difference to Children and their families lives."