A Day in the Life of… Kevin O’Farrell

SeniorMedical Social Worker (MSW), Cardiac Ward and Cardiac ICU, CHI at Crumlin

I get up at 6am and generally cycle to work. When I get to work I check emails, phone messages and iPims to check for discharges or new admissions to follow up on. Then I shower.

I have worked as a MSW in Crumlin for two and a half years and I am qualified as a Social Worker 12 years ago. I work in the Cardiac ICU and Children’s Heart Centre Wards in CHI at Crumlin.

We see a wide variety of patients and diagnoses and all cardiac patients are referred for MSW input. My daily routine varies depending on the presenting needs of the patient and their families.  We work with all children linked to the Children’s Heart Centre including children who require heart transplant, open heart surgery and other major heart related procedures etc. We are also tasked in working with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders in order to appropriately support the presenting needs of the child and their families.

I attend weekly psychosocial multi-disciplinary meetings and therefore work closely with both my medical, nursing and HSCP colleagues to provide the best service for each child in the cardiac service.

Not to sound cliché, but working with children and their families is the thing I like the most about my job.

I also have a huge respect for the staff in Crumlin. Staff in Crumlin go to extraordinary measures to assure that the children receive the best holistic care possible. They often go beyond their roles, remit and function to ensure the best individualised care for patient.

I find bereavement work and the reality of working in a hospital with very sick children very challenging. However to be positive, we as MSWs can assist families in establishing a very positive and special narrative to families dealing with bereavement in a very difficult and unnatural time in their lives. In such tragic circumstances, we can provide coping mechanisms and tools for parents and siblings to deal with the death of their loved one.

I am very proud of my role in the Cardiology Department, particularly when parents return to Crumlin in the months following a bereavement to say that they are very thankful for the support I gave their child and family in the final weeks of their child’s life.

Outside of work, I enjoy hiking and walking with my wife and two boys. I also enjoy rowing. I am a member of St Michael’s rowing club in Dun Laoghaire and I will be rowing across the Atlantic in 2020 as part of a two man crew. We are hoping to raise funds for the Children’s Heart Centre in Crumlin.

The MSW Department has recently started to hold quarterly breakfasts with the team which help us to unwind and debrief. I also have monthly supervision meetings with my Line Manager where we discuss caseload and troubleshoot challenges of the job.

I enjoy working with my team and I admire how everyone strives to do the best for the children we work with.

We do everything we can, despite often having limited resources to cope with all demands. I am also motivated by the parents I work with. It is inspiring to see the strength that parents show when supporting their children through illness. It makes me think how I would react in a similar situation while being mindfully aware and thankful for my own children’s good health.

My children make me laugh and I enjoying watching the similarities between my eldest son and my wife. Just the other day, following my wife’s environmental endeavours, my son told me ‘not to leave the tap running’. He certainly did not ‘lick it off a rock’. Thankfully my seven month old hasn’t taken to telling me off…. just yet.

I love the hospital canteen especially the Italian Lasagne. The canteen staff really are amazing and make the atmosphere a really welcoming place to unwind for staff and families. The relaxed atmosphere is very much welcomed space to chill out, catch up with colleagues and relax away from the demands of a busy job.