Was I his friend?
Friday 9 January 2015

HandshakeSome time ago when I first started out in social care I was supporting a gentleman, three mornings a week. We got on really well and had a few things in common, including a love of vinyl. He was a massive record collector and amongst other things we spent part of our time hunting down classic vinyl.

I enjoyed supporting him and I know he really valued the time we spent together. When we chatted, one name kept cropping up. He told me it was his friend and she’d soon be popping round to see him.

He'd regularly talk about this person and her expected visit, but the visit never materialised. Becoming a little concerned, I’d ask about this and was always told, with confidence that she’d be coming round any day now!

I dug a little deeper and found out that this person was in fact his old support worker, from over three years ago. She’d promised him when she left that she’d visit him, pop in for a cuppa and bring a few old records she had lying about the house.

I couldn’t blame him, it certainly wasn’t his fault, but it angered me that this gentleman was holding onto a false promise and a false friendship. It made me think about how we interact with people we support, how we talk and what we say, and our choice of words. The experience really brought home the importance of honesty, professionalism and how we build relationships. He referred to me as his friend, a tag I struggled with; I was paid to be in this man’s life, I was employed to support him. So was I his friend?

Clear boundaries can be hard to establish and maintain, and supporting people can be tough, especially if you're the only person in someone’s life.

If you're a professional, paid to be in someone’s life, what is your role? Are you a friend?

Matt Boyle
Communications Events Manager