A Gift

I’ve written before about receiving presents from service users and to be honest, it doesn’t happen very often anyway but yesterday it did.

I went to visit Mr F. I see him regularly as he has been having a pretty difficult time of things recently. When I visited him, I was expecting it to be a tough visit. He has a lot of anger about  a lot of things, including the service that my team provides. I am the last in a line of care coordinators from our team. He has made a lot of complaints about us as a team and a department. I haven’t been working with him for too long.

It was a sunny day and he was sitting outside. He grabbed a chair for me to join him and I imparted the updates that I had been wanting to tell him about. Then he went inside and came out with a dusty, slightly soiled picture of a cat. He said to me ‘I know you are a cat lover, so you can have this’.


He has cats, often his cats approach me. I don’t flinch. I even forgo that one cardinal rule a colleague once imparted to me when I first started working in the borough about ‘not touching the pets’. I can’t help it. I do love cats. On one occasion, we even managed to complete an Attendance Allowance form with a cat sitting on it – writing delicately around the cat wherever possible. Being subjected to the snarls when we needed to gently push cat bottom out of the way to fill in the form under it.

So presenting the picture to me, he added for effect ‘It even has cat hairs on it’. And indeed it did. His cats like sitting on things. Especially papers.

I took it, saying that there were lots of cat lovers in our office and I’m sure it would give pleasure to us.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have but my immediate determination of the value of said picture was around the pennies.

But the sentiment was worth so much more. Especially with the cat hairs.

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14 thoughts on “A Gift

  1. That’s lovely 🙂

    When I have given gifts to mental health types, I have always tried to give something worth little but meaningful, such as a postcard or picture that says something meaningful, as I suspect this is less of a hassle than having to fill in a form to say that a patient gave you something expensive!!

  2. If it’s not of significant monetary value, I always figure you’re okay. You would take a letter or a card from a client, so why not a picture?

    Just curious though, why someone encouraged you not to touch the pets? I’ve never heard that advice before. I’ve got one client whose dog likes to curl up around me and lay his head on my lap!

    • ‘Try telling that to my service user’s staffie…’ please can we lose the term service user. It sounds truely dreadful. Patient is a lot nicer. IMO

      • The thing is that different people prefer different terms so it’s hard to find something that everyone feels comfortable with. I do try to adjust my language based on individuals’ preferences on a day to day basis. .

  3. The ‘don’t touch pets’ came up after a specific incident when I got a terrible bout of fleas.. . but to be honest, it isn’t something I’m overly bothered with because I can’t resist and I do love animals..

  4. gifts are so hard! especially when they are something that will help to build rapport. i usually take the same stance as you – ‘we will all enjoy this very much. i will share it with the rest of our co-workers by xxxxxx.’

    p.s. I’m glad I found this blog! I am moving in September from Canada to London and I’ve already been registered with the GSCC. I’m seeking more information from social workers in the field. This will help!

    • Often we get chocolates which are very easy to share! And good luck with the move – if you want any more specific information, feel free to contact me through the ‘contact me’ form 🙂

      • Hmm. I am a mentalist (really need to stop using that term – out it popped when I was talking to my CPN the other day and inevitably led the ‘is that how you see yourself?’) and therefore more likely to give gifts than receive, but if I were to receive a gift of chocolates then they most certainly would not be shared. They would be hidden and then scoffed by me.

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  6. What a sweet note from the field! Gifts are difficulty and I have only received one in my time at my current place of employment…it was a wonderful loaf of homemade banana bread. To be honest, though, I didn’t share it with my colleagues, so maybe I wasn’t being ethical?

    • Nah, we just have really strict guidelines about gifts including an issue of sharing. I don’t think it’s an ethical issue unless you are talking about vast expense! Homemade banana bread – I wouldn’t share either!

      • Oh, fleas. I suppose I should have thought of that. I’m hardly going to worry about it however since any risk would be overshadowed by the disgusting bedbug issue we have here!

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