Jackie O’Kelly is a Scope regional response worker for the midlands. Here she shares a typical working day, as part of our 100 days, 100 stories project.
6.45am I’m up making breakfast , feeding the cat and driving my teenagers to the bus stop for school, then it’s off to work.
I’m able to work remotely at an office in my elderly mum’s house, which is fantastic as I can make sure she’s okay at the same time.
9.00am I’m answering half a dozen emails which came in overnight.
9.30am I get a call from the Scope Helpline letting me know about a referral – I get 15-20 new ones a month. I ring to introduce myself, and we arrange a home visit for later in the week.
I’m working with about 20 people at any time, and lots will keep in touch for months or years as they face new difficulties.
10.30am I make a quick phone call to check in with George, a disabled man who’s applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). I’m worried he might be turned down for the mobility payments he really needs, so we’re working together on his application.
11.45am Squeezing in a few more emails. One of the most important parts of my job is pointing people to the right information, whether it’s about their impairment, benefits, local support or funding for home adaptations.
1.00pm A visit to meet Sarah, a mum whose four-year-old boy has just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She’d been told for years that nothing was wrong despite her worries, and she’s very upset.
A lot of the work I do is with parents who have a child newly diagnosed as disabled, and this is very much where my expertise lies. I primarily worked in paediatric care when I was an occupational therapist before joining Scope.
Sarah and I talk about the different forms of cerebral palsy and where she can get support. The diagnosis was a real shock and I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet. I’ll get back in touch in a week, and she’s got my details in case she needs me.
3.00pm Back to the office to check on a few more cases.
I’ve been with Scope for 17 years, and a lot has changed in that time. But the needs of disabled people and their families have remained very much the same – the need for information, advice and support.
4.15pm I’m on the phone chatting to a mum about her daughter, who has autism, and she says she’d like to meet some other parents of disabled children.
Luckily I know a dad nearby whose daughter also has learning difficulties. I give him a ring, and he’s happy for me to pass on his number.
5.00pm A last-minute referral comes through – a family with two young disabled kids desperately needing respite care. I spend an hour ringing round different agencies, and decide this needs to be referred to social services. I’ll keep in touch to see if there’s anything I can do.
6.00pm Check my mum’s settled for the evening, then it’s home for dinner with the family and a bit of trashy TV! Working with people going through such difficult times can be draining, but I love helping people get things sorted out. It doesn’t feel like work at all.
For free, independent and impartial emotional support or disability advice, contact Scope’s free helpline on 0808 800 3333 or email email@example.com