Sunday, November 8, 2009

Working and Living in the Same Community

It hasn't happened too many times, maybe around a dozen, that I've spotted clients outside work during the weekend. A couple of times happened in my neighborhood, once four buildings down from where I live. I don't live on the other side of town from where I work so these incidents are not unexpected. But a lot of my clients tend to stay in their neighborhoods. And truthfully when I see clients on the weekend it's a bit odd, like seeing a teacher outside school.

My relationships with clients are fairly well defined at work but don't exist when I'm off duty. More than that, staff is told not to address clients outside the agency unless they approach us first for confidentiality reasons. I understand this but it feels strange not to acknowledge someone you know. Some clients walk past me without saying anything. But others say hello, sometimes waving their hands from the other side of the street. Keisha had been upset at me once, early on when we were working together, when I didn't say hello to her. I explained that I did it to protect her privacy and she said, "No one know you're my case manager!" But I prefer to caution on the confidentiality side.

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