Monday, September 1, 2008

over confidence

Okay, so I just slept from 4PM to 8AM with only minimal interruptions. That is so, so, not healthy. Neither, apparently, is my over confidence.

I've noticed at work, that my favourite supervisor has been really laying into me about putting myself in unsafe situations. Part of this it turns out is that management has been spying on us through the camera system and he got a lecture about us, but part of this is very directed at me.

At first, I was mad. I thought, what the heck, I know what I'm doing. I have experience, blah, blah, blah, I'm right, he's wrong. I was taking it as a personal insult, and I was FRUSTRATED! Because it kept happening though, I realized I should probably take a look at my behaviour and figure out what exactly was going on.

I've always thought of myself as having a healthy fear level, especially recently. Having struggled greatly with anxiety in the past, feeling confident is something relatively new for me. I tend to be more fearful them some staff members and less fearful then others.

The biggest issue seems to be in the drunk tank. As staff, we have the option of giving detainees water, or not. I rarely, rarely do, this is not my issue. The first issue seems to come in the way we wake people up. Generally, we're supposed to bang on people's doors and scream. I have a hard time with this, because sometimes everyone else is FINALLY quiet, I don't want to set it all off. I'd rather open the door, lean in, and speak loudly. If they don't wake up, then I have to "kick" them (shake gently with foot while holding door). I NEVER let go of the door, I never bend over and use a hand unless someone else is present. I'm CAREFUL.

My biggest issue seems to be however, when a client is having a medical or psychological emergency. I like to right in there with them. If the person is having a hard time breathing, I want to be in there rubbing their back and monitoring breathing. I want to be ready to perform CPR if necessary. If a client is having a panic attack, I want to be in there, looking into their eyes helping them ground themselves and breath through it. I've had panic attacks, and they're freaking scary. This, is where I get myself in trouble though. My instinct is to reassure and protect, and I tend to forget about MY safety.

Unfortunately, my supervisor's right. I need to be more careful, and I'm glad he's willing to reprimand me. See the thing is, I trust him, and I trust his judgment, he's very discerning and perceptive, and he really is trying to help me. He doesn't want to see me hurt, or on leave for PTSD. He's been there WAY longer then me, longer in fact then I've been alive. Of course he knows. He's seen it all before.

And so, goal of the week. Watch myself, and discuss. I love having a supervisor I can actually talk to, even if he's not a social worker. This week I am going to pay attention to my confidence levels, the risks I take, the risks I don't take, and the feedback I get from other staff. It sucks to be wrong, and told you need to change your actions/attitudes, but it's important, and I'm glad I have a supervisor willing to do that.


cb said...

I think it's really easy to get complacent about your own safety and it's good to be brought back by your supervisor/colleagues at times. I know I've done it a lot of times thinking 'oh, I know X, I'll be fine visiting alone' or 'it's just a quick visit'. To date, I've been fine but you do sometimes need other people to alert you to the risk.

Reas Kroicowl said...

I agree. I think we've all probably placed ourselves at undo risk at some point or other. It's good to have someone willing to pull you back.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad your supervisor is serious about safety. I agree with cb and reas that we social workers often want to go the extra mile, even if it means sacrificing our safety (though the sacrifice may appear slight to us). I know I've done it too. Still, I can see where the spying thing with the cameras is unnerving. Perhaps you could talk about a way of monitoring safety that doesn't seem to undermine worker/management trust so much...

prin said...

thanks for posting about that. i hope i get a supervisor i can trust :)

Caroline said...

You never ever get to a point where you always call it right every time - I think the real mark of experience is in realising that living to fight another day and be available to help lots of other people is, sadly, the way to go. Sometimes that means playing safe when playing fast and loose might have helped more. I love your blog, I love your enthusiasm - you remind me of me twenty years ago - hell, you remind me of me now on a good day! x