Carla Washburn Case Study

Carla Washburn Case Study
Source of case study, Practice of Generalist Social Work online curriculum
Overview of the situation and your involvement
You are a social worker at the Area Agency on Aging. You recently received a call from Anna about her
sister, Carla Washburn. She is quite concerned about her sister and would like someone at the agency to
reach out to her. This is your role. First, read the information Anna provided below.
Background information provided by the sister, Anna
Carla Washburn is a 76 year-old African-American woman who has been widowed for the last fifteen
years. She lives alone in Plainville, a small town in the Northwest. Her small home is in a neighborhood
that has been steadily deteriorating ever since the paper mill-the city’s largest employer went out of
business four years ago. Carla and her husband were both employed at the mill until their respective
retirements. Carla receives a small pension and Social Security. Unfortunately, the recent economic
downturn has put the mill’s pension fund in serious jeopardy.
Ms. Washburn recently lost her grandson in Afghanistan. She had raised Roland Jr. from the age of eight;
he came to live with her after her son Roland and his wife were killed in a car accident fourteen years
ago. Until Roland Jr. turned eighteen, Ms. Washburn was able to collect survivor benefits, funded by
OASDI, to enable her to care for him adequately.
During the time that Roland Jr. lived with her, Ms. Washburn threw herself into his care and activities.
She found that she had nothing much in common with her old friends, because they had raised all of
their children and had more freedom to socialize than she did. Eventually, these friends dropped out of
her life.
Roland Jr. decided to join the Army after his high school graduation, to get money to pay for college.
Shortly after finishing basic training, he married a young woman, Alice, who he met while at the Army
base in North Carolina. Carla travelled to North Carolina to attend the wedding. Although she liked her
grandson’s new bride, she really did not know her. And when Roland Jr. was killed, the Army focused its
family outreach services on the young widow.
Although Carla and her sister spoke weekly by phone for the last fifteen years, Carla has made no
attempt to contact Anna since Roland Jr.’s funeral eight months ago. When Anna called, Carla
questioned over and over how it could be that both her son and grandson were no longer alive while
she, an old woman, still lived. Anna has told you that her sister told her of a recent fall she had had in
her home that left her with difficulty walking. In the course of the conversation, Anna also mentions that
Carla has Type II diabetes, and is insulin-dependent.
When you contacted Ms. Washburn, she refused at first to have you visit and expressed irritation with
her sister for contacting the Area Agency on Aging. However, when you explained how worried her
sister had been and how Carla could ease her sister’s concern if she would consent to a visit, Carla finally
agreed to see you. But she was adamant that she neither wanted nor needed help.
For this activity, you will work in pairs. Each person should keep good notes – you will use these to
work on next week’s pairs assignment. For some questions, you will have the same responses but
for others, your responses will be different.
Carla Washburn Case Study
Source of case study, Practice of Generalist Social Work online curriculum
You are now preparing to meet with Ms. Washburn at her home. Consider each question carefully and
provide a response.
1. What are important characteristics of Ms. Washburn that need to be considered?
2. How might your own identity and characteristics affect rapport and engagement with the client?
3. What specific and concrete actions will you take in your first meeting with Ms. Washburn that
will promote engagement? In your notes, list your concrete actions (at least three).
Pairs practice: Practice the concrete actions with your partner, one of you acting as the social
worker and the other as Ms. Washburn. How does the client respond when you, as the social
worker, take those actions?
4. What are steps that you need to take in regards to self-awareness that will help you work with
Ms. Washburn? What beliefs do you have in regards to working with someone with her
characteristics that could impact the relationship?
5. Review the information for Standard 1 in the NASW Code of Ethics. Which two standards within
that group do you believe are MOST important in this stage of working with Ms. Washburn?
6. Which theory/approach is MOST helpful in assessing Ms. Washburn? Choose one and share your
rationale for choosing it.
7. Based on your theory/approach, develop a set of questions (remember – open-ended when
possible) to ask Ms. Washburn to learn more about the situation. In your notes, list at least five
questions to use.
Pairs practice: In your pair, practice asking those questions, one person serving as the social
worker and the other Ms. Washburn. Then switch roles. Use clarifying, paraphrasing and
summarizing in your interview.
8. Which assessment tool (see the tools in Chapter 4) could be helpful in assessing Ms. Washburn?
Choose one and share your rationale for its use. Are there others that you know of that may be
helpful? If so, name them and provide a rationale.
Submit your own notes in the dropbox by October 4 at 11:59 p.m. Once you submit your notes, go
to the case study website (link will open once you paper is submitted) to see more info on Ms.
Washburn and the situation

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