Us human beings are a strange lot. Whilst we need a sense of community and belonging, we also strive to portray the essential essence of ourselves, to mark ourselves as different from other human beings. I define myself in various ways, just like all other human beings. I was born in this country. I am from this family. I have done these jobs. I live with this person. I am a mother. These are my values. And so on. There is a narrative, a continuity, a past, present, and – hopefully – a future.
Imagine trying to look upwards and outwards without a solid foothold in the past. All you have are moments lost in time, fragments of scenes that make no sense and offer no cohesive narrative. Some of these are in sharp focus, technicolour, frightening ; others are ghost-like shadows that slip in and out of memory.
Imagine living your life dominated by a whirling maelstrom of uncertainty, constantly searching for order, attempting to fit together shards of half remembered scenes in an effort to work out who you are, and where you belong.
And then add another element to that picture. Your brain is damaged. You struggle to remember and sometimes you cannot make sense of everyday things.
It’s a perfect storm.
In which we explore the joys and trials of being the subject of assessment.
I was on a mandatory risk assessment training course today -for my job, rather than fun or any particular hobby. (Just thought I’d clarify that – unnecessary perhaps, but, we don’t know each other, do we?) We were asked ‘what would you want an assesssor to know about you?’ I grinned inwardly (leastways, I hope my face retained its usual inscrutable demeanour), as I heard my colleagues offer various suggestions. My likes, family support, my care needs, health issues etc. Oh! It sounded so lovely, so relevant, so brief.
Nobody said ‘I’d like to be asked how often I have sex’. Nobody offered ‘please contact my exes and ask why we split up’. Nobody thought the issue of fire blankets particularly imperative, nor were they clamouring to be asked to attend medicals with a GP who didn’t know his hips from his waist. (No, I’m not being polite: that was actually the problem.) Equally amazingly, nobody requested that they write 500 words for a panel of strangers about the challenges they would face as gay parents. No shout outs for attachment style psychological testing either.
All very strange. My colleagues did not want hoops to jump through, hurdles to surmount, boxes to tick. They just wanted a worker to listen, to assess, to provide. In the words of Miss Doolittle ‘wouldn’t it be loverly’.
Our Social Worker was loverly, but that’s for another post……