Social Worker burnout… not just talk

I read the Minister of Community Services’ recent response to Child Protection Social Workers’ circumstances and the concerns that the Union has identified.

“We want to make sure our social workers are well supported and we believe they are,” – Kelly Regan

I have kept quiet long enough.

I was reluctant to speak out after ending my permanent employment with the Dept. of Community Services for fear that I may jeopardize things if someday I wish to regain employment with the Province. After reading the Minister’s recent comments about the supports in place for our Social Workers, and her absolute lack of concern for their wellbeing, I feel compelled to speak out and likely end all possibility of returning to work for the Provincial government.

I apologize for jumping around a lot, however my thoughts are all over the place as I am so stricken by the lack of empathy, compassion or UNDERSTANDING demonstrated by Kelly Regan.  The practices of our current government and its restructuring have done little but exacerbate an already dire situation.

I’d challenge the Honorable Kelly Regan to go back and conduct exit-interviews with the MANY social workers who left permanent government positions in the last few years (including myself) for jobs with less so-called stability and much lower pay grade before making any further speculation about the support provided to our social workers. In my small office alone I can count 4 of us who did just that during the time immediately surrounding my own resignation. Perhaps it would also be enlightening to spend just a few weeks sitting in the chair of today’s child protection social workers – it wouldn’t take a day to see just how undervalued social workers are.

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Yarmouth Court House & Jail House

Yarmouth Court House & Jail House

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Beach therapy – a photo essay

Beach therapy – a photo essay

Beach Therapy

Nova Scotia Beaches – May 2014

 

Something about a beach just cleanses my soul.

Beach Therapy

Beach Therapy

Beach Therapy

Beach Therapy

 

 

Where do you go for a little reboot?

 

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Conrads Beach Nova Scotia a photo essay

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia – photo essay

Taking a walk with my new lens SIGMA 17-70/2.8

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

Conrads Beach Nova Scotia

 

 

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Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun or email me at trish at trishblogs dot com!

I invite you to subscribe to my blog using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my page on Facebook, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it. You can do so using the easy share button below!

Project 365 – May 13

Mourning dove

From 365

Project 365 – May 4

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Bedford, NS

From 365

The love of Rural Nova Scotia

The appeal of rural communities.

I spent a large part of my “growing up years” in a small rural village outside of a small town in Nova Scotia. We had limited resources, but unlimited connection.

We had to travel 3.5 hours by car to get to the nearest (and only) city of our province. The passenger train service was cut when I was about 12 years old. The airport cut-back flights again and again. The bus schedule was reduced to a skeleton of its former self. There was one largish department store and small mall, one large grocery store (and several small), and the “twin cinemas”. The smaller independents began to struggle as the franchises expanded further into small towns. We knew nearly everyone we saw walking down the street.

The circles of community service organizations certainly were connected and couldn’t work in silos if they tried. We simply shared too many resources, service providers and clients.

About five years ago I chose to live in a small urban centre (well technically, I live in the suburbs of it), where we have all the resources we could ever want at our fingertips. But there feels like a real disconnect in the community in comparison. There is something to be said for not having to travel any distance to get to any of the resources we need or desire. I feel better about the carbon footprint we are leaving behind, but I just miss that small town living!

Whenever I spend time in a small town I feel a draw “back-home”. I believe we could reduce our footprint in other ways if I chose to move back to such a place. But what about the limited resources? What about the limited work opportunities? What about the need to travel to the city for unforeseen needs to be met for our children?

On the other hand. What about being in the heart of the communities supporting the local movement i.e. fishing and farming)? What if we could safely let our children walk to school alone? What if we knew our children’s teachers, our doctor, our grocer and pharmacist, within the community?

I feel so torn, but this week I am feeling very much inclined to move back out to the country, after two very short visits to two beautiful rural towns.

We can no longer AFFORD poverty! (Conference Day 1)

Tonight I had the privilege of hearing some amazing people share their stories. I was so touched by their genuine humble attitude and willingness to share and hopefully open a few people’s eyes with their stories.

If only the room had been jam-packed with those whose eyes really need to be opened. The Stephen Harper’s who seem to believe it is okay to attempt to revive our economy on the backs of our poorest and most vulnerable.

As Senator Art Eggleton said today, if we cannot reach such people via morals, perhaps we can via economics. We can no longer AFFORD poverty. He said, that in order to achieve future prosperity, we must reduce today’s poverty. It costs us as a nation more to maintain people’s current state of poverty (which is what our current systems of social support are set up to achieve; side note: tragically when they are not working well, which is much of the time, they not only maintain, but entrap people in poverty) than it would if we invested in eliminating it. Which, by the way, our nation committed to doing by the year 2000, for children of our nation, in 1989.

Speaking at the event tonight and listening to the panel afterward were Ministers: More (Labour & Development) and Peterson-Rafuse (Community Services). I truly hope that they will remain in attendance at this conference to take in more of those shared experiences and really see the faces of poverty, like we saw tonight.

The people we heard from today shared 3 entirely different stories, yet their messages were the same.
Poverty must end.

Laura shared a story of when she was the struggling artist trying to make a go of it in life, and needing a hand up temporarily after losing a job. Then of the more mainstream therapist (herself, later in life) being sidelined by injuries that have left her unable to work a traditional job, or perhaps any job at all. She was forced to deplete every one of her assets before she could get help. Her RSP’s, her small savings, etc. So now, not only is she living in poverty, but she has no hope of getting out of it in the future.

As Laura pointed out tonight, poverty is not complex. (my sidebar: perhaps the “issue” of poverty may be). The state of poverty is not complex, it is very simple. People deserve to eat. People deserve to have safe potable water to drink. People deserve to have a safe place to call home. Another person said that all people in the world have a right to have enough to live. That they have the right to be allowed to live. Senator Art Eggleton shared a Statistics Canada finding that poverty reduces people’s life expectancy even more than Cancer.

Kimberly shared her story of being a young mom and victim of abuse choosing to become a survivor. She relied on social assistance to give her a hand up in her time of need, but has become entrenched in poverty. She went back to school to be able to provide a better life for her children and now has student loans equivalent to many people’s mortgage payments. She cannot afford a home for herself and her children.

Wayne shared a story of medical needs putting him in a position of indefinite dependance on the system, of the humility of being forced to “shop” for second hand furniture with an allowance from Community Services that requires other people to communicate about his needs, rather than allowing him to be empowered to care for himself.

The right to shelter and other survival needs should not come at the cost of someone’s dignity. Sometimes dignity is all a person has left. As Laura pointed out tonight we must start saying that “my value system does not include a person living like that”.

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There was a little good news that came out of today’s events. Minister Peterson-Rafuse shared some important announcements with regards to changes to the service delivery design of Employment Support Income Assistance (ESIA): (*these are not verbatim and must be confirmed for accuracy) eye exams will be fully covered; benefits will still continue after a child turns “of age” if they are still a student living at home; the spouse-in-the-house rule has been changed so that an ESIA recipient’s benefits are not effected for one year after moving in with their partner (what happens after a year though Denise? We don’t really believe two poor people living together can lift themselves out of poverty simply by living together do we?); the total amount of assets an individual can have (rather than forced to deplete) will be doubled; supports will be based on individual needs; and the application process will be much less intrusive, asking only for Basic personal Information.

These are positive signs. As usual, they just aren’t enough. But these are important baby steps. I commend the Province of Nova Scotia for making steps towards a better quality of life for all of our citizens!

Are you/we a “Have” or a “Have-not”?

It’s a common theme at this time of the year, but it holds true in most parts of the world. Autumn is a time for change. The physical changes happening all around us seem to be an impetus for internal change processes. We send our children back to school, we ramp up the extra-curricular activities and move into a faster pace than the relaxed summer days (personally those weren’t around long enough for my liking).

I always feel compelled to reflect on my life and consider what changes need to happen in order for me to move forward and feel content with the direction of my life. I’ve been considering a lot what I want out of my life and how to achieve it. I feel compelled to make a difference in this world, which I know most of us do if we take the time to really consider what legacy we’d like to leave behind us at the end of our time on this earth. For me, it’s simply been a part of the way I think , for as long as I can recall.  I want the people and community around me to change with me, for the better.

I live in a “have” community in a “have not” region of a wealthy developed nation. What this region lacks is globally insignificant – in comparison to the “have not” regions of the world. Globally we are very well-off. What many of our impoverished must do without is still a far better scenario than those of other nations. Some would accept that as proof that we don’t need to change. I disagree. If we look around us there are people among us living without. Without everyday necessities. They live without things that many of us would never accept doing without in our own lives. Yet, we judge those same people for mis-spending, while we would never invite someone else’s judgment of our spending habits. Somehow most of us feel entitled to our privacy and right to determine our own priorities without external interference, yet think nothing of judging our neighbors who struggle to get by for their “poor choices”.

This is endemic in our society and way of being. We do so at the very micro level – passing judgment on our neighbors – and we do so at varying macro levels.

In my “have” community it is not uncommon to hear residents complain about being forced to contribute to the larger system, only to see other communities benefit from those funds for things that our own community believes not to be necessary (and we usually already have). Or a poor choice of priorities. Or (imagine!) to be taking away funds from our own community’s own priorities.

Now don’t get me wrong, I want to see my community develop and grow and thrive. I hate for us to do without in order for other priorities to be met. However, I believe very much that it is our responsibility as citizens of a larger community to consider what sacrifices might need to be made in order to lift others up. We must consider that if we make those sacrifices, and others are lifted up, the result will benefit us all. It’s always circular.

Just as we sometimes need to sacrifice something of our own (time/money, etc.) to help a family member or neighbor in need, so too must neighboring communities, regions, provinces, and yes, even nations. I absolutely support our nation helping those less fortunate nations, especially in extreme times of need (i.e. during floods, and earthquakes and wars). I also support each and every one of us remembering that it starts at home. If we take the time to care for our neighbors, we will as a nation have greater capacity to help other nations.

I’m not in a position to have much of an impact on the state of the world, or even how my own nation fits into that picture, but I can start right here at home. My vision is that my immediate community will begin to make it a priority to share our wealth, to lift up those around us, so that we all can become “have communities”, so that we can become a “have province” and one day be able to say that there are NO “have-not regions” in our own nation. When we can finally say that, we will be in a position to offer so much more to other parts of this world.

We CAN change the world, one person, one neighborhood, one community at a time.  Be the Change!

Yesterday’s shots

There is nothing spectacular about this photo, except that I am learning to discern the difference in the quality of my shots.  If only, I could recall what I did here differently than the others!  😉

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