IN THE NEWS
Social worker says: “I am not the same person anymore.”
By Reon Janse van Rensburg
Many aspiring students studying to become social workers wonder whether they have what it takes to enter this occupation. Although the occupation comes with some rewards, it remains extremely stressful and emotionally tasking, and sometimes social workers have to deal with several problems at once.
In addition to the abovementioned challenges, other work circumstances and their earnings can often be just as challenging. As in many other occupations it takes a certain kind of someone to be a social worker.
Social workers, like teachers, are called to do this work. Social workers do their work for the love of the cause and because they truly care about other people. However, they are not immune to burnout, exhaustion and feelings that other people in other occupations and in society are dealing with.
Sarah (pseudonym) is a social worker that told My Social Work News after years of hard work as a social worker she is not the same person that she was before she entered the occupation.
“I am sorry I am not the person that I used to be before I started this job. I know I’ve changed in ways that you can see, and I also know I’ve changed in ways you can’t see as well.” – Sarah, Social Worker
Maybe you as a social worker feel the same as Sarah. After years in the occupation, you are possibly also tired and exhausted. The stress and tension that you are experiencing daily is starting to take its toll. Read further to see what Sarah has to say.
Sarah says that when she first entered the profession, it was because she wanted to help others and make a difference in the world. She did not want a work where she had to count down the hours or where she already had to make plans before the end of the month about how she was going to pay all her expenses.
“I wanted to have a working life spent in the service of others. I wanted to measure the fruits of my labour in the lives I had made better and not how much I had improved my own status.”
Sarah says there couldn’t be a better choice of occupation for her than social work and that she could always be proud of being a social worker, especially because she could devote her life to it.
However, Sarah feels she can no longer hide how the occupation changed her as a person.
“I know that I am not there for my own faily as much as I used to be. It used to be the case that I would come home at the same time every day and my word was my guarantee. If I said I would be at the school play, I would be there. If I said I would make the family meal, you could rely on me. If it was your birthday, I could always get the time off and devote all of my attention to you. I am sorry that I am not like that anymore. You are no longer the only people that I have a duty of care and responsibility for and, as much as it pains me to say this, there are sometimes other people who need me far more than you do.”
Sarah argues that when she does not see the concert, she knows that her children will still go home safely that night. When she misses dinner with her family, she at least knows that her family had something to eat and even when she misses one of her children’s birthdays, she knows that there are other people who care about her child.
“It is not that I love you any less these days, just that I have to give up on what makes me happy for the sake of what keeps other people safe.”
Sarah explains that over time she has seen her friends slowly but surely disappearing from her life. In the past, they often talked on the phone, but after a day at work where she was talking so intensely with people, it became difficult for her to gather enough energy to pick up the phone one more time when she’s finally home.
“When you had problems I would be your shoulder to cry on and you always used to say how great I was at offering advice. Now you think I no longer care because I don’t react as passionately as I used to.”
The truth, however, says Sarah, is not that she does not care, but that the problems of many people she knows suddenly seem so insignificant, especially in the context of what she experiences daily at work. Suddenly the small issues no longer seem so important and things like abuse, oppression and people who have experienced real injustice bother her more.
“The things I have seen, the burdens I bear and the duties I have to undertake, don’t just fade away when you get home on an evening […]. The emotions linger and stay with you long after the events have passed. I can’t just clock off and switch off like I used to.”
However, Sarah says that she hears that everyone she loves has also seen her change in a positive way. She mentions that even though she can no longer be there in the same way for the people she cares about, she hopes that her own people can be proud of her for being there for others who do not enjoy the same support networks as she does not. She is wiser than before and has also grown as a person in this process.
“I know it might sometimes look like I don’t care for you like I used to, but I assure you that’s not the way it is. It’s just that there are sometimes people out there that need me more than you do.”
Solidarity’s social workers’ network wants to encourage all social workers to reach out to experts and to talk about their mental health. The pressure is lot and you do not have to carry it by yourself.
I’m sorry I’m not the person I used to be before I became a social worker – https://www.mysocialworknews.com/article/i-m-sorry-i-m-not-the-person-i-used-to-be-before-i-became-a-social-worker
Wenke en vrae wanneer jy die regte finansiële adviseur soekTips and questions when seeking out the right financial advisor
By Dr Eugene Brink
Finances are one of the thorniest and most touchy subjects in most people’s lives. And with good reason: It literally determines how we can look after ourselves and our families.
Therefore, when we seek advice from financial advisors, it is crucial to ask the right questions and draw firm conclusions. “Whether you’re just starting your career, nearing retirement or somewhere in between, a financial advisor can help you navigate important decisions about your money. Financial advisors come with an array of backgrounds, so it’s important to know how to choose the right advisor for you,” says personal finance writer Cynthia Measom.
This sentiment is echoed by Devon Card from Crue Invest (Pty) Ltd. “Ideally, your financial advisor should be someone you partner with for life, which makes choosing the right person and advisory practice a fairly important decision.”
Here are some of the steps to follow and questions to ask when you embark on this very important quest.
- Do your research
This cannot be emphasised enough. “There are different types of financial advisors (i.e. traditional financial advisors, online financial advisors and roboadvisors) who offer different services. Additionally, different traditional financial advisors may have different certifications and registrations,” says Stephanie Horan, data journalist at SmartAsset and a Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®) in the USA.
In other words, shop around and compare as you would with other products and services. Card has some advice in this regard to simplify the process. “Firstly, it is important that you find a planner who can advise you across the full spectrum of financial planning. This will avoid having to find different advisors for various aspects of your portfolio. For instance, if an advisor only provides investment advice, you may need to source a separate financial planner to advise you on your business assurance needs or to assist with your estate planning.
“Obviously, not every financial planner can be an expert in all areas, which is why it is important to establish the in-house expertise of the entire practice. Like law firms, some professional practices employ experts in areas such as tax, estate planning, risk and investments, to name just a few, to ensure that clients have access through a single practice to the full suite of advisory services.”
- What are your qualifications, experience and certifications?
“A reputable financial planning practice should be registered with the Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA), have an FSP number, and should be in good standing with this regulatory body. Its FSCA certificate should be displayed at the reception, and its FSP number should appear on all marketing material,” says Card.
“As a minimum, your financial advisor should hold the Certified Financial Planner® designation. Be sure to ask your financial advisor about what other qualifications or designations they hold and what experience they bring to the table. Many professional advisors hold commerce or law degrees together with their CFP® or CFA designations.”
He says that if your advisor holds the CFP® designation, they will be registered with the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI). “The FPI is a South African qualifications authority and is the recognised professional body for financial planners in this country. Being the only institution to offer the CFP® certification, the FPI ensures that its members keep up to date through continuous professional development.”
Ask for testimonials from current and previous clients (or read up about them on the advisor’s website if they are available there and the type of clients the advisor has serviced).
- How and how often will you communicate with me?
Measom says communication is vital to any successful relationship. “You want someone who attends to your needs and answers your questions. Find out how often your financial advisor plans to be in touch with you and how you can reach him or her as needed.”
Card recommends talking to your advisor about what type of reporting you can expect to receive from them and how often you will receive these reports. “Determine whether you will have regular reviews of your financial plan and, if so, how often. If necessary, request examples of the type of reports you can expect to receive to ensure that they meet your expectations.”
- How much will it cost?
This is an essential question – especially depending on what you would like to do. Card says a financial advisor should be upfront and fully transparent about how they earn their fees. “A remuneration structure favoured by most professional financial planning practices is to charge a flat rate for the preparation of a financial plan plus an ongoing advice fee calculated as a percentage of assets under management on a sliding scale.
“This structure does away with the inherent conflict of interest found in commission-based structures while at the same time incentivising the advisor to dispense appropriate advice that will stand the client in good stead over the long-term. Further, most fee-based practices avoid charging hourly rates as they do not wish to discourage clients from contacting them for advice.”
Cynthia Measom, 2021, “10 Questions To Ask a Financial Advisor”, https://www.gobankingrates.com/money/financial-planning/questions-to-ask-a-financial-advisor/.
Devon Card, 2020, “10 questions to ask before appointing a financial advisor”, https://www.moneyweb.co.za/financial-advisor-views/10-questions-to-ask-before-appointing-a-financial-advisor/.
Stephanie Horan, 2021, “How COVID-19 Has Changed Financial Advisor and Client Communications – 2021 Study”, https://smartasset.com/financial-advisor/financial-advisor-and-client-communications-covid19-2021.
Tips for a doctor who has to share bad news with patients
By Melodie Veldhuizen
Medical practitioners’ most important task is to heal patients and keep them healthy. Unfortunately, they are sometimes confronted by the unenviable task of sharing unwelcome news regarding a medical condition with a patient. This news can, among others, be the confirmation of a serious illness, a medical setback (such as the return of cancer that was in remission for a long time), or a terminal prognosis. The way in which this news is conveyed will be remembered by the patient and his next of kind for the rest of their lives and also determines the patient’s future attitude towards you as his doctor. It’s a challenge for doctors, but there are ways in which this news can be conveyed in an effective and empathetic way without causing confusion and further emotional suffering.
Doctors have to maintain a fine balance between conveying the negative news, providing medical facts in an understandable way, showing empathy and giving the patient hope.
Prepare the patient for possible negative news. It already starts when you send him for medical tests. Make the patient aware that you are sending him for specific tests to eliminate certain possible diagnoses, but that the results might also deliver negative news. As soon as the results are available, arrange an appointment with him to discuss the results. During the appointment you can give the patient the choice of arranging a follow-up appointment where next of kin will be present. At the same time this will give him the opportunity to ask more questions after having had the opportunity to process the news calmly at home.
Evaluate the patient’s state of mind by firstly enquiring how he feels about this visit and what feedback he expects from the test results. This will give you an indication of whether he realises the extent and seriousness of his medical condition.
Determine how much information the patient requires. Emanating from your observation, you can now try to determine what he doesn’t know and what he would like to know. This will indicate to you how many medical facts you should share with him. Most patients usually wish to receive as much information as possible regarding the diagnosis, details about the condition, prognosis and treatment plan. Others want to know the minimum, especially when they are still in a state of shock.
Provide the required and other essential information. The way in which this information is conveyed is extremely important, especially because it leaves a lasting impression on the patient. Communicate honestly and candidly. Begin by discussing the test results extensively. Call the illness by its name. Explain the implications, prognosis and treatment plan. Use terms the patient will understand. Avoid unnecessary medical terms. Don’t beat about the bush. Grant the patient enough time to process the information and give him the opportunity to respond, whether with questions or remarks. In this way you determine if he understands precisely what you told him. Afford him the opportunity to write down the information so that he can share it with his loved ones. If he is too shocked to ask any questions, arrange a follow-up appointment and ask if a family member should be present.
Handling emotions. Patients’ emotions after hearing the news can range from a shocked silence to disbelief, a torrent of tears, denial or anger. The human factor midst the cold, clinical facts that you have to convey, is important. One way in which you as doctor can react, is with empathy. Acknowledge the patient’s emotions, but don’t say, “I know how you feel” or “One of my family members/other patients has had the same experience”. The patient’s experience and emotions are unique and no-one can know precisely how he feels, over and above which he does not want to be compared to someone else. Rather say, “I can see you are upset. The news must come as a great shock to you.” It’s in order to say you are sorry that you have had to impart the bad news and that you sympathise with him. You can be empathetic and still remain professional.
The road ahead. Patients for whom the prognosis and treatment plan have been laid out clearly, are less anxious and unsure about the road ahead. Your awareness of the patient’s knowledge about his condition, his expectations and whether or not he is hopeful will enable you to understand on what emotional level the patient is. From there you can discuss the situation further. Explain the treatment plan, whether it be chemotherapy of radiation for cancer, a life-threatening operation, a possible amputation, or medication or dialysis for kidney failure. Also be honest if nothing can be done for him, except for making the time still available to him as comfortable as possible. Don’t create false hope or unfeasible verdicts and make promises that cannot be fulfilled. Name alternatives, but let the patient decide himself if he wants to follow up or not and if he resigns himself to your prognosis. During this discussion the patient might also be offered choices, for example chemotherapy versus no treatment. If the prognosis is very poor, at this time palliative care may be discussed. Respect your patient’s decision, even you don’t necessarily agree.
Remember, as medical practitioner life and death are not in your hands. Even if you and your patient know that his condition is incurable and that, medically speaking, he only has a short time to live, you may never give a pronouncement about his life expectancy. Only God has power over life and death and knows exactly when it’s the patient’s time.
AAD Career Compass. https://www.healthecareers.com/aad/articles/career/how-to-deliver-bad-news-to-patients
Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318067#Its-O.K.-to-say-Im-sorry-
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