Step 4 – What if your key worker is unresponsive? Talk to your GP

Once Bianca retired, Ben was in free-fall. He was seeing a different key worker for post detox support – part of the after care package put in place before he went into detox – but he wasn’t being seen regularly by an alcohol nurse/key worker at the local drug and alcohol service that was following his case. This went on for two months. By then, he was back to drinking heavily. Eventually, the post detox key worker had to stop seeing him, because Ben was clearly back on the drink.

Eventually, a new key worker replaced Bianca, but he left before he even had a chance to see Ben. Some weeks later, he was replaced by Sara.

I telephoned Sara to discuss Ben’s case, before she met him. She seemed distant and uninterested, and bent on ending the conversation as soon as possible. I was telling her that Ben was drinking again, that he was heading down the same path he had been on earlier in the year and would end up back at zero if he wasn’t sent into rehab or something similar immediately. I also said that he was talking about suicide. ‘What’s his name again?’ she asked, 15 minutes into our conversation.

That set the tone for her interaction with Ben – and me. She even stopped seeing him for about a month, because he “kept saying the same things to her”. It was precisely during this time that his conditioned dramatically declined.

Whenever I spoke to her, she displayed the same disinterest. She even laughed when I told her that the only food he was eating at the moment were an apple and a few chocolate digestive biscuits. She made appointments with Ben which she didn’t turn up to. I know this to be a fact, because I was present when she made one of those appointments, and I accompanied Ben on the assigned day, only to be told that she wasn’t there. Unlike Bianca, she made no attempt to keep me abreast of developments. If I didn’t ring her, I wouldn’t hear from her.

Fed up with the lack of progress at the service, I accompanied Ben to his next GP appointment (this must have been about a month ago) and complained bitterly about what was happening.

The GP rang them up and queried Ben’s case. I don’t know what he said to them, but a few days later, Sara filled in an application form for detox for Ben, and the alcohol team had decided that detox should be followed immediately by a residential rehab programme – pending an appointment with the community care assessor. (Prior to this, all talk of rehab was firmly discouraged by them.)

Once that was done, they said, a recommendation for detox and rehab would be put before the funding panel. If they okayed it, Ben would be sent immediately into detox.

Last week, Sara left the drug and alcohol service and Ben’s case has now been transferred to a new key worker – Marc. We only found out about this after I complained to the GP again because the community care assessment appointment still had not been made despite promises that it would be made last week and the week before that.

Marc and I have spoken about Ben’s case. He appears to be concerned about Ben’s condition, and insists that they are working as fast as possible. I see him later this week. The thing is, Ben is so ill that I doubt he will make it through another week, let alone two. I feel like I’ve hit a dead end.

Still, the lesson in all this is, if your key worker isn’t responsive, request a new one (in retrospect, I don’t know why we didn’t). At the same time, keep your GP updated on any progress. Your GP is just as much an advocate as a good key worker can be. 

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2 thoughts on “Step 4 – What if your key worker is unresponsive? Talk to your GP

  1. Pingback: Flight of the monarch « marriedtoalcoholic

  2. Pingback: “You are the glue” | married to an alcoholic

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