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Outreach accounts for a significant amount of your time, efforts and focus.
Why is outreach necessary?
- Many in your client group will not have access to a car or perhaps won’t have a licence.
- Many will find access to and the cost of public transport particularly challenging (engagement might involve providing your client a topped-up public transport card).
- Some services have particularly large catchment areas, which can mean the travel time to and from some services is too great and too difficult for some clients.
- Mandatory appointments scattered across the city can make it near impossible for a client with young children to maintain their routine (sleeping, feeding, settling etc.), which can compound a young parent’s stress and difficulties.
In addition to simplifying things for your client, outreach (visiting a client in their community or home and/or hosting important meetings or appointments in their home) allows for opportunistic intervention. You will be granted insights into the client’s living situation and positioned to offer tailored advice regarding basic living skills informed by your observations.
- If you find a client’s house particularly messy (large piles of laundry, dishes etc.) you can offer simple and practical housekeeping tips.
- Sighting unpaid bills might prompt a much-needed discussion around budgeting.
- Seeing a client’s kitchen/pantry could stoke discussions around cooking and basic nutrition.
Your strong relationship with services (for example, with maternal and child health or pregnancy services within a hospital etc.) can assist a client’s engagement with that service. For example, if a client is aware of your pre-existing relationship with a maternal and child health nurse, they are more likely engage with greater ease. Guide clients to build similarly strong relationships with services, in particular, highlight the importance of cultivating a relationship with a local GP.
Many clients’ transience means there’s little or no consistency when it comes to GP visits and medical files, which, particularly when children become involved, can create hindrances down the line.
Collaborative service involvement is key to well-rounded support of your client, that is, linking in other services where needed, maintaining contact with services to ensure everyone is working together but on different aspects of the client’s needs, and using services to involve the client’s family.
It’s important to encourage clients to be as active as possible in discussions and meetings with services. Over time, their involvement builds self confidence, strengthens communication skills and helps the client to understand that they can influence their own outcomes even when it comes to ostensibly rigid services such as Child Protection.