FAMCare Blog: I Love Poker

How many of your clients do you know? When case managers are asked this question, their answers might surprise you. Some, of course, say they know all of their clients. Some answer that they know most of their clients. Some, on the other hand, believe that they don't truly know any.

Only professional case workers and supervisors have insight into the answers above. They know that the case load burden in Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, and Domestic Violence, to name just a few, often prevents even the most diligent and feeling case workers from ever really getting to know the clients in their care.

 "I may know the name, gender, and age of one of my clients, but that's not enough to give me the insight I need to help a particular child. I feel like I need to understand so much more. There just isn't enough time."

 One caseworker has created a solution to this problem. She calls it, The Poker Project.


 She adds "stickies" to her intake forms by highlighting individual qualities to help her identify clients. "Of course, I usually start with Name, Gender, Age, and Race. Then I add one word "tells" just like poker players use to remind me of something that distinguishes one client from another. I note likes and dislikes, offenses, family notes, fears, jewelry, physical attributes, or maybe pets."

 SAMPLE PROFILE: Antoinette - 12 - Female - Latino - Chocolate - Loud Noise - Mother Deceased - Dogs - Shell Bracelet - Big Brown Eyes - Cleo, the Cat. "Antoinette was my client four years ago, yet I remember her as if it was yesterday. Every time I pulled her file while she was one of my cases, regardless of how busy I was or how many clients I had at the time, I remembered her instantly."

 PATHOLOGY: Without attempting to diagnose, I often add "tells" to my intake files from the client's initial interview. I might write, for example: No Eye Contact - Fidgets constantly - Shy - Angry - Bites nails - Stares off. Three weeks later when I open up the child's file, it's like he or she is sitting right in front of me again. It still works even three years later.

 TELLS: "I learned about 'tells' from my husband who is an expert poker player. The slightest note that you instinctively jot into a client's file could tell you all you need to know about how to handle the case."

 MODERN POKER: The "sticky note" days are over for most case workers. Utilizing the right software, however, allows the modern practitioner to document these types of "tells" or characteristics about clients. A robust system like FAMCare offers a level of customization that allows you to install The Poker Project in your files.

 You will be amazed at how much self-confidence and peace of mind you will gain by using The Poker Project when interacting with your clients.

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