Meet our Social Worker

Tiny_lives_flower_darkHello, my name is Fiona and I am the Tiny Lives Social Worker for the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at the RVI in Newcastle.  I obtained my qualification in Social Work in 1993 and I have had a wide and varied career in this profession.  I started work for the Hospital Social Work Team in October 2010 and was employed as the Tiny Lives funded social worker on 1st July 2012. The post is funded 29 hours per week. The unit is also supported one day per week by a Newcastle City Council Social Worker called Samantha.

My job is incredibly varied and no two days are the same.  In the “Red Area” of SCBU one of my goals is to introduce myself to all parents and help them understand what my role is and what I might be able to help with. This would mean that they have the chance to decide if they want my help or not, either now or at any point on their journey in SCBU.

The neonatal unit can be a very scary place and whilst all the staff are very conscious of this and in my opinion, are fantastic at explaining and normalizing the experience. It can remain a very stressful and at times terrifying experience.  An important aspect of my role is emotional support, helping families to consider the impact of this situation and explore their feelings. These can often be shock and feelings of lack of control of their baby and their whole situation. SCBU can feel overwhelming and quite isolating for new parents. I find that giving space to discuss how normal, expected and common these feelings are within the SCBU environment to be one of the more rewarding parts of my job.

Another aspect of my job is more practically focused. I support families accessing such things as charitable support for carers and support for brothers and sisters. I provide information on benefits such as SMP1, Maternity Allowance, Tax Credits and Disability living Allowance. If families have more complex benefit issues then I can refer to Newcastle City Council’s Welfare Rights Service for support.

On the Blue and Green Area’s I attend a weekly meeting with a Community Nurse representative and the Sister-in-charge. This highlights families who may need ward support and/or community support. This can be from various services: Community Nursing, Family Support Team (FST), SureStart and Barnardo’s. I can help to co-ordinate these services. If families want support while in these areas and I am not already involved, all they have to do is ask one of the nurses and I will  arrange to meet them.

I can also access Tiny Lives Funding if appropriate to help parents afford to visit the unit. I can also assist with, for example; employment problems and housing issues. Having a child on SCBU is difficult enough without the rest of life throwing up problems so I see my role as supporting families whatever the issues may be.

It is a great job and early days for me with Tiny Lives funding. I am looking forward to developing the role in the next few years, build on the success recognised in the Bliss audit and address any weaknesses alongside a fantastic and inspiring staff team.

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