Toyin Adenugba-Okpaje

My name is Oluwatoyin (Toyin) Adenugba-Okpaje. I’m a social worker employed by The City of Edinburgh Council at Captains Road, in the Health and Social Care Partnership. I work with other health, allied and social service professionals to meet the needs of people aged 16 and above. I’m registered with the SSSC as a social worker.

I worked in care at home for around 15 years in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and latterly Scotland doing different roles such as care coordinator, support worker and services manager. I decided to change direction and pursue a career in social work. This was to build on my existing skills and make meaningful interventions in the lives of people facing complex and sometimes conflicting difficulties.

There is no typical day in my line of work. I adapt my day to suit the needs of the individuals on my caseload. It could be completing a needs assessment for someone with care and support needs, organising and taking part in an adult support and protection case conference or completing a care home review. I mostly have a 9-5 work pattern.

My work experience in care at home helps me manage my workload in a way that allows me to have a work life balance. Care at home could be quite stressful especially when trying to manage visits, staff availability and rotas but it gave me an opportunity to develop organisational skills which have been quite helpful in my current career. As a single parent of four teens, I have learned to work with strict timetables and routines. These continue to be of help in managing my daily to-do list.

I qualified as a sociologist in Nigeria in 1989 and since then I have picked up other qualifications such as Postgraduate Diploma in Business Studies and Social Studies and a Master of Social Work (MSW) among others. I am preparing to start a PhD in social work in September 2019. I enjoy studying alongside practice and, despite always saying I won’t do it again, I find that I get bored and then start looking at other qualifications I can acquire.

As a Dementia and Carer Champion I am working on initiatives to improve support provided to those living with dementia, so they can have a life that does not restrict their hopes. Walking alongside people on the dementia journey to remove the obstacles they face is important. They need empathic practice to recognise their difficulties without using these to further disable them.

I like the ability to make a difference in people’s lives especially when they are expecting the social worker to be an inconvenience. It’s always humbling when the walls come down and people share their fears. I enjoy the phone calls when a relationship of trust develops, and these individuals consult with me about personal issues they believe I can help with.

I like the varied nature of social work in the community.

I don’t like the amount of time spent on trying to develop a budget that will meet a need.

Social work is not as bad as you hear in the media. It is rewarding and you get to make a big difference in the lives of people struggling with one difficulty or the other.

It is an honour to have the opportunity to help people achieve outcomes they might otherwise not be able to achieve.

It’s always humbling when the walls come down and people share their fears. I enjoy the phone calls when a relationship of trust develops, and these individuals consult with me about personal issues they believe I can help with.

Toyin Adenugba-Okpaje Social Worker