Friday, June 24, 2011

Leading From Possibility

No Old Stuff here, please.

More and more, I am hearing from people-colleagues, friends, members, neighbors, pedestrians- that the reason they didn’t hear, or didn’t remember, or messed up was that it was a sign of age, a senior moment, memory lapse, the aging process.   This has become, in my estimation, the #1 excuse on the street for folks in my age group (under 100.)  It has become an irritation, an annoyance, a complaint for me such that I wonder if there is some truth to it.  Do most of us really start losing it after 40?, 50? 60?  

I don’t forget about aging.  And that is that the MA Chapter’s Nursing Home SIG (Shared Interest Group) is just holding its very successful 33rd annual conference.  This conference, on the topic of older people- the clients and those professionals working with the aging population is far from feeling the effects of its age.  In fact, this Annual Conference is sharp, pithy and substantive.  The organizers keep coming up with fresh ideas for working with the elderly, creative resources and novel sites for holding the conference.  I am totally taken with the Chapter’s SIG and the committee that puts the conference together.  Led by Chair, Elise Beaulieu, the group continues to mobilize, sharp speakers, exciting exhibitors and an audience of professional social workers who are unstoppable in their quest for new knowledge on the subject of treating old people. There is no ‘old stuff’ at this conference- just possibility. 

Carol J. Trust, LICSW

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Leading From Possibility


For a while now, I have been noticing something that is quite peculiar.  It has to do with how people respond to compliments or being thanked for something that they did or a way they are looking.  For instance, when a colleague thanks you for your taking her place at a meeting that she was assigned to attend but could not because of a case emergency, what do you say?    Is it ‘No Problem?’ or  ‘I didn’t have anything else to do during that hour’.  And when someone compliments you on a new tie or a great pair of shoes, do you respond with, “Oh, I’ve had these for a while,” or “do you really like it?”

I want to know whatever happened with the old fashioned, “Thank you very much,” or “ You are most welcome.”  What is with this “NO PROBLEM” response?  Do you realize that there are two negatives in this phrase?  The negative is the word ‘NO’ and the second is the word “PROBLEM.  How odd of us to respond with a double dose of negatives when someone is complimenting or thanking us?  Where is our sense of civility and genteelness?   I want to bring it back, or if we never had it, start generating it.  Right now.

With this in mind, I want to thank our great NASW members for all that they do. Thank you! For choosing social work for your  profession when  you could have  chosen a more lucrative,  often less stressful career, for supporting communities in reaching the goals they have set, for putting your caring into practice rather than keeping it solely in words, for being part of NASW so that your professional organization can represent you and the clients you serve in the legislature, and other governmental and private settings that influence public policy.  Thank you for what you do and for your dues.  And thank you most of all for giving me a great job, where every day when I come up on the elevator I enter Suite 409 at 14 Beacon Street, Boston, with a big smile on my face.  Thank you.

Carol J. Trust

Friday, June 10, 2011

DCF’s Stars amid a Cloudy Sky

I just returned from a meeting of the Department of Children and Families State-Wide Advisory Council, where Commissioner Angelo McLain and his staff updated the group of advocates, providers, foster parents, birth parents, community volunteers, and professional societies the latest happenings at the Department.  A lot of time was spent on the budget and the impact of budget cuts on the critical services that the Department provides or contracts to community groups to provide.  The cuts that the Legislature is proposing are heart rending and will certainly mean that services will have to be cut and that social workers may be laid off.  We talked about prioritizing budget line items that we could directly advocate for given the across the board reductions. I marveled at the tenacity of the Commissioner and his staff to ‘soldier on’ with their commitment to continue to provide the valuable services they offer to our vulnerable families and children.

There was one very telling piece of information that was presented and that was the poor record MA holds in the number of foster home placements that Department of Children and Families (DCF) kids experience.  MA ranks 43rd out of 51 states on placement stability. Commissioner McLain, instead of being defensive, directly conveyed that the state must do better. His staff shared with us all the actions they are taking to improve the situation and then they urged those present to add our ideas about what the Department could do.

It is this kind of genuine acknowledgement of failing grades and disappointing facts without any excuses that distinguishes Angelo McLain as a leader of integrity and inspiration.  I worked for DCF years ago and remember the impossible situations that the child welfare staff faced but I don’t recall this level of authenticity and candor displayed.  I am glad that Angelo is at the helm and we should do all we can to support him and his staff.

Carol J. Trust

Thursday, June 2, 2011


It seems that every couple of weeks or so either I or my staff get a call from a worried and sometimes frantic member with an ethical dilemma that needs immediate attention.  Usually the person identifies himself or herself as someone who has been practicing for many years, has experience with tough clinical issues and has never had a problem like the one they are presenting.  'What do I do?' is the question posed to us.

Now, the MA Chapter has a wonderful service for its members who are faced with potential and real ethical dilemmas.  The Chapter's Ethics Hotline committee members, composed of social workers, highly trained in identifying and addressing ethical issues. They do an exemplary job helping callers with their ethical dilemmas.  What I want to stress is that social workers have an opportunity and a responsibility to be aware of potential ethical pitfalls BEFORE they occur.  As professionals, we must be totally aware of, trained in and knowledgeable about these unexpected situations that can occur in anyone's practice; regardless of the number of years one has practiced.  We cannot be arrogant about our knowledge of social work practice.

With this in mind, I want to remind all social workers to look for opportunities to become fully trained in 'avoiding' and 'addressing' ethical dilemmas.  One of these opportunities is coming up on June 10, when the MA Chapter holds a Continuing Education program specifically geared to raising social workers awareness, not only of the potential pitfalls but also of how to deal with them.

This program titled, “Protect Your Clients and Yourself” is particularly relevant now, as it will focus on the problems associated with the use of social media in one's professional AND personal life. The MA Chapter President, Betty Morningstar and I will be attending as we view this training as crucial to our professional lives.

The workshop will take place at Lantana in Randolph, MA on the morning of June 10th (9-12:30) with registration starting at 8:30am. To learn more or sign up for workshop Click Here.

 Carol J. Trust