SWK 354e Families and their Issues – SUSS, Singapore

Read the case and answer all the questions.

You are working as a social worker in Colour Family Service Centre. On 3 July 2018, you were asked to work with John (14 years old, Secondary 2) and his family who were referred by a nearby secondary school. The school cited grief, relationship and poverty issues as the reasons for the referral. While John was doing well academically and socially in school, the school made the referral as John’s father, Robert, had some concerns about John. Robert (53 years old), went to the centre alone. John did not see a need to attend the session and hence did not turn up.

Robert and his wife Maggie married 16 years ago. Robert said that due to low education level, he could only find work as a sailor to support his family. As a sailor, he was often away from the family for long periods of time. In Robert’s absence, their two children, John and Eddie (11 years old, Primary 5) became very close to their mother, a homemaker. When Robert was away, he and Maggie maintained contact, regular enough for Robert to know what was going on at home. Unfortunately, Maggie was diagnosed with cancer. As Maggie’s
health was deteriorating during cancer treatment, Robert decided to end his 16 years career as a sailor in February 2018, to care for Maggie. He found it hard to find a suitable job with his low educational qualifications, as well as taking care of Maggie and the needs of his sons. During this period, Robert also experienced difficulty engaging with John.

Maggie (46 years old) passed away after a 3-year battle with cancer, leaving behind Robert, John and Eddie. On her deathbed, Maggie expressed her desire for Robert, John and Eddie to develop a close relationship with each another. As the family’s savings were almost depleted paying for Maggie’s treatment of cancer, Robert decided to downgrade from their 3-room HDB flat to a 2-room HDB flat in June 2018. The family had not been paying the instalment for their flat since Maggie was diagnosed with cancer. The family also incurred arrears for their utility and service and conservancy charges for the past 3 years.

In May 2018, Robert found work as a security guard. He worried about his sons, especially John. John had become very sullen especially after the death of Maggie. John was very angry with Robert for selling their 3-room HDB flat, which reminded him of his mother and the memories of the times spent there. The more Robert tried to speak with John, the more John withdrew from their relationship. John’s withdrawal further led Robert to try to engage John even more, to fulfil the promise made to his late wife to take good care of John and Eddie. Robert was on the verge of giving up to engage with John. Robert shared with you that he
found Eddie crying for his mother in his sleep rather frequently, asking his mother to come back home. The family had never talked to one another about Maggie’s death after her passing. Robert then broke down during the session; he found life a challenge as so many things had happened since then.

Answer all the questions

1. Use the genogram, ecomap and timeline to explain the family’s structure and circumstances. (10 marks)

Using the key assumptions about family systems, discuss the needs of the family. (20 marks)

2. Formulate your care plan to work with the strengths of the family with any 6 key strategies used in family social work. (20 marks)

3. Apply any 5 possible techniques a social worker can apply to support and strengthen this family. (20 marks)

4. Apply Worden’s theory in relation to mourning to analyse the tasks of mourning that the family needs to negotiate and work on. (20 marks)

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