Lauren has been a BGF Case Manager for four years. Lauren’s role is to provide critical support and advocate for the wellbeing of clients, something that is needed now more than ever.
No two days are the same in Lauren’s role and that’s particularly true during COVID-19. Lauren’s caseload is a lot bigger than normal; providing daily advice to clients on the current financial and health literacy provided by government agencies to make sure they’re receiving all the support that is available. This has meant a lot of changes to care plans and referrals on behalf of clients that need to be lodged.
Clients often do a lot of their reflection after hours once Lauren has clocked off and send through messages to communicate their feelings and current situation. Lauren makes sure to always respond to these messages that can dictate work agenda for the day.
"Mornings kick off responding to the 15 emails and texts I receive overnight – The emails are never-ending but they’re full of the super important information I need to support my clients. I can’t risk missing even just one. Life doesn’t go on hold for my clients when I clock off, so I always need to take time in the morning to catch up with the previous evening’s events."
Communication and being up to date of the latest HIV and health-related information is essential in Lauren’s work and assimilating this information and sharing it with clients is vital in being able to best serve clients, liaise with other community organisations and other professionals such as psychiatrists, therapists, neuropsychologists, GP’s and counsellors to deliver a care plan.
“The fact of the matter is that human beings - whether they’re clients, policy makers or staff - generally don’t like change and that’s going to add an extra layer of stress. What I think we’ve been really good at is communicating matter of fact rules and regulations structures and device on what clients need to do and how they need to do it and that is fantastic.”
Lauren also makes sure to update the client and their family on outstanding issues.
"Communication is key, so I always make sure the client and their family or chosen family are up to date with issues surrounding care and support."
Lauren has also been working closely with other BGF Caseworkers and Case Managers, calling existing clients that aren’t on current case loads to check in on their physical and mental health well-being.
"There are times at the moment when face to face contact with my clients is unavoidable. which is actually a good thing. While we’re focussed on keeping our clients physically safe, we also need to look out for their mental health. They are generally living alone and socially isolated with little to no human contact at the best of times – the last few months have been really tough on many of them. I can tell after a phone call with them that their mood has changed and that they’ve become more positive about things. It’s one of the things I really appreciate about my job.”
“I’ve found that when talking to clients on the phone, the conversations are more matter of fact, so I’ve tried to be mindful of making sure I’m asking people how they are travelling outside of core business. Not just “are you taking your medication?” or asking “have you have got enough food in the fridge?” It needs to go beyond their basic needs.”
When not directly working with clients, Lauren is engaging with BGF’s external partners and organisations to check in on how they’re supporting people living with HIV. In particular, Lauren is spending a lot of time talking with Parramatta Sexual Health and HIV services in Western Sydney to see how everybody is negotiating the COVID-19 changes. It involves a lot of coordination, conversation and organisation and it requires flexibility between different support providers which is working well.
“Support workers are helping to keep pressure off the health system at a time when that is so important, by supporting clients who may otherwise require a hospital bed and care and keeping those beds and that care available for those that may need it during this pandemic. I’m proud of what we’re all achieving.”
"The variety of responsibilities means that there may not be such a thing as a typical day in case management. I say "typical", but any case manager knows this doesn’t really exist in our daily lives!"