Wednesday, April 30, 2008

First Day of Training

My orientation went well enough yesterday...kind of boring, lots of PHIA stuff I already knew. I started training today. Seriously, whose idea was it to start shift at 7:30. I realize that's common, but argh, I am just so not good with mornings. Tomorrow I'm on evenings and the back on days for Saturday. We'll see how things go I guess.

I spent all of today in the Intoxicated Persons Detention Area (IPDA) aka the city's "drunk tank". IPDA was...interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It raises some ethical issues for me in a way, but not. I understand the reason for it and seeing the people that were brought in today I totally understand the way it is the way it is. It is just hard to see in someways.

Basically my role in IPDA is to process intakes and discharges and make sure no one dies. The intake process is far too complex and sure there are many ways it could be made more efficient, but alas, who has time for that? This is generally how it works, except when we get behind.

1. The police or downtown watch (BIZ) bring in an intoxicated person picked up for causing a disturbance or being a danger to self/others (ie blindly stumbling across the road). They bring this person to us.

2. While the officers strip the person of all possessions and everything but one layer of clothes, I try to establish their name, medical conditions, medications and current intoxicant. Sometimes this is aided by police or they're frequent customers. Once I have their name I can search them in the data base and get some of the medical stuff as well.

3. I choose a cell. Some have cameras and some don't. We save the cameras for people with seizures, other severe medical issues or who are especially upset or combative. The officers pat down the client and make sure they have nothing, and then escort them to the cell which automatically locks.

4. I make an itemized list of all their possessions and count the money etc... we make note of every last scrap of paper "personal papers". I also get the details of the incident, where they were picked up, the unit numbers of the officers and the incident number. Then the officers have to sign off. They get a receipt for the client they brought in.

5. I fill out the rest of this form which indicates all the medical details, birthday, condition on arrival etc... Then I enter it all into the computer as well.

6. I fill out a form for "punches" (not nearly as physical as it sounds).

7. Then I fill out the log which basically repeats information I've already put in two or three places. There is nothing new on it.

8. Then I add the client to my cell map so I know what time they were in and who is where so I can easily tell the officers where to put new people.

9. Somewhere in this process I store the clients stuff in a locker which corresponds to their cell number. Rubber gloves and plastic bags are of the essence. If they have more then 20$ I have to do another whole form and get the shift coordinator to sign it. The money goes in an envelope in the safe.

And that, is intake.

Now while this is all going on, I also have to be doing "punches". We have a time clock at the very back and we have to turn the key every 15 minutes. We also have to check and make sure every person is breathing. We look for chest movement or listen for breathing through the's not as hard as I thought it would be. Then we have to fill in their form with whether they're awake or sleeping, if there's any movement and our employee number. Every two hours we have to wake them up...bang on the door, shout, whatever it takes.

And lastly, we have to keep discharging people when they sober up. The minimum stay is 4 hours and the max is 24. Most people are in for 8 or less. It can depend what they're on though, and today we had a guy in for 12 cause he kept refusing to go...he wanted to sleep! To discharge them we just talk to them, ask them a few questions, try and figure out if they're sober enough to go. Then we have to walk them out, offer them a phone call, get them to sign a form (two if its night time) and then give them their stuff back. Then we have to fill out a bunch more paperwork in five places. PLUS a cleaning sheet.

After a person leaves, we have to clean, although it's good to let it air out for a while... Then we have to mop, refill the toilet paper, scrub the mat and prop the door open to air. And then of course, fill out some more paperwork! But, don't get too caught up in cleaning, or you'll forget to do punches! I need to buy a watch w/ timer asap, and some closed toed crocs.

So that was my first day. I had a great trainer who was easy to talk to so things weren't awkward there. I got free lunch, gotta love donations. And I got PAID! Such a differences from paying to do practicum.

Tomorrow is job interview at the church, meeting with my best friend and then working we'll see how things go!

Monday, April 28, 2008

It starts tomorrow

Here is goes, this social worker is stepping out, jumping in and hopefully not falling to hard when I hit the real world. Tomorrow I start a job at a homeless shelter, drop in, detox and intoxicated persons detention area. While it's not a "real" social work job, it's a start, and it's where my passions are.

I'm nervous. I got in a fight with my best friend this weekend, caused mostly by me, and I feel sort of like my heart is breaking in two. I wouldn't call it the best way to graduate or enter the workforce. Words hurt, even when you realize the next day that you don't really mean them. I've been crying on and off since Friday night, so I'm really hoping I can keep it together for tomorrow.

I can do this, right?