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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2012

Bill McKitterick

This paper seeks to identify the most effective ways both to recruit and retain social workers. It aims to explore the roles and skills that social workers bring to the…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to identify the most effective ways both to recruit and retain social workers. It aims to explore the roles and skills that social workers bring to the provision of social care for adults and to invite a more detailed debate on the particular responsibilities in the field of neurodisability.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on successful methods of recruitment and retention of social workers, from the experience of recruiting managers and the perspectives of social workers. It explores the current, in part inconclusive, debates on how best to utilise their practice skills and knowledge. It also invites the contribution of people working in this field to inform a second paper for the journal to address this in more detail in the field of neurodisability.

Findings

Despite enduring problems in the supply of capable and skilled social workers and low levels of retention, strong leadership by managers of social work services can take positive steps to ensure the provision of sustainable services and avoid the use of agency staff. These leaders can positively identify and make best use of the specific practice skills and knowledge of social workers, which in itself supports higher levels of retention.

Originality/value

The paper is based on direct experience of achieving high levels of successful recruitment and retention of social workers in times of short supply and a positive analysis of the specific and positive contribution of social workers in adult social care.

Details

Social Care and Neurodisability, vol. 3 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-0919

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 23 May 2022

Constance Gunhidzirai, Shingirayi Florence Chamisa and Vongai Sarah Ruzungunde

COVID-19 has affected the lives and well-being of frontline workers including Social Workers and Social Auxiliary Workers. The purpose of this chapter was to explore the…

Abstract

COVID-19 has affected the lives and well-being of frontline workers including Social Workers and Social Auxiliary Workers. The purpose of this chapter was to explore the experiences of social workers and social auxiliary workers in the COVID-19 working environment. This chapter adopted a critical discourse analysis whereby articles were purposively selected to explore the challenges faced by the selected group of workers in executing their duties in the COVID-19 environment. The findings of this chapter revealed that Social Workers and Social Auxiliary Workers in South Africa are experiencing critical shortages of personal protective clothing and this has affected their capacity to effectively render services to individuals, groups and families. The findings indicated further that, Social and Auxiliary Workers experienced mental health issues that include stress, anxiety, fear, role conflict and work overload which was detrimental to quality service provision to their clients. The chapter calls for the National Department of Health to increase access to personal protective clothing to enable frontline workers to execute their mandates in a safe environment. The chapter also recommends for the government of South Africa to enhance its social welfare role through the access of the COVID-19 Relief Packages via the Department of Social Development to support struggling communities during COVID-19.

Details

COVID-19 in the African Continent
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-687-3

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 28 January 2022

Ciarán Murphy

The backdrop to the Munro Review of Child Protection was a narrative propagated in the British national press, and perpetuated particularly by the then opposition…

Abstract

Purpose

The backdrop to the Munro Review of Child Protection was a narrative propagated in the British national press, and perpetuated particularly by the then opposition Conservative Party, that the case of “Baby P” evidenced the English child protection system was “failing” and in need of reform. Subsequently, the review asserted that the system had become “over-bureaucratised” and “defensive” at the expense of social worker discretion in the interests of the individual child, highlighting the need for “radical reform”. This paper aims to report on the extent of, and continued barriers to, social worker discretion within the contemporary English child protection.

Design/methodology/approach

As an ethnographic case study of a single English child protection team, the study used a sequential and iterative mixed method design, encompassing observation, document analysis, focus groups, questionnaire, interviews and “Critical Realist Grounded Theory”.

Findings

The study found that social worker discretion was continuing to be undermined by the “Baby P effect”; not only in the sense of increasing numbers of children within the system but also by the perpetual fear of being “named”, “blamed” and “shamed”, akin to Peter Connelly’s social workers.

Originality/value

The paper considers how discretion is manifested in contemporary child protection, especially in the context of the “child-centred” system envisaged by the Munro Review. It concludes that the British media and politicians have a continued role to play in reducing the risk associated with the social worker’s discretionary space.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 October 2019

Nicholas Thompson

Special guardianship order (SGO) assessments require social workers to make plans and recommendations for ongoing post-SGO contact between the child and the parents…

Abstract

Purpose

Special guardianship order (SGO) assessments require social workers to make plans and recommendations for ongoing post-SGO contact between the child and the parents. However, there is very little policy to inform and guide practitioners on how these duties should be undertaken, and no studies that describe current practice. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how the recommending of contact in special guardianship cases is currently working, by holding focus groups with social workers and special guardians. This paper reports on the results of a study to examine what contact plans social workers are recommending, the thinking behind their decisions and the views of the special guardians who have to make those plans work.

Design/methodology/approach

The research involved a mixed methods approach comprising of an online questionnaire, two focus groups for social workers and two focus groups for special guardians. This paper describes the second part of the study and reports on the qualitative results from the four focus groups. The methodology was based on a pragmatist theoretical position, and used an interpretivist approach and elements of the analytical procedure of grounded theory in order to generate inductive research. The focus group method was chosen as the best way to gather rich information on the opinions and ideas of practitioners who are recommending contact and the carers who are managing it.

Findings

Participants provided a wide range of views on the issues, with practitioners describing the challenges of planning contact, and special guardians explaining the problems they faced with the parents. Involving special guardians in the study gave a chance to include the different perspectives of the people who have to make the contact recommendations work, and contrast their views on contact planning with those of the professionals. The study makes recommendations for practice, which recognise the difficulty of preparing an initial contact plan that will remain relevant for years ahead.

Research limitations/implications

The number of focus groups the author held was limited by the author’s own personal resources and the time the author had available, and one group only had three social workers on the day. The author’s involvement affected the responses, and the author’s questions dictated the issues that were commented on, but the answers were the opinions that the participants wanted to express. The nature of the approach means that no two sets of focus group results would ever be the same. And as the direction of the discussions was largely dictated by the participants, the coverage of all aspects of contact was probably inconsistent.

Practical implications

This research sheds light on a crucial area of social work permanency planning, that has suffered from a lack of previous research, in order to better inform future practice. The paper reports on what contact plans social workers are recommending, the thinking behind their decisions and the views of the special guardians who have to make those plans work. It concludes with recommendations for improving future special guardianship policy and practice.

Social implications

The research clearly raises a number of specific difficulties faced by special guardians and problems with current policy and practice. These include the special guardians’ lack of understanding about contact, the difficulty for social workers of long-term planning, the challenge posed by uncooperative parents who behave badly, the view of carers for the need for a greater emphasis on the quality and reliability of contact, and the challenge to careful contact planning posed by the adversarial court process.

Originality/value

Special guardianship has had a major impact on permanency planning since its introduction 12 years ago. However, apart from one DfE study in 2014, very little research has been produced to inform policy and practice. There have been no studies specifically on contact in special guardianship cases, despite contact being one of the two major factors in determining the success of SGO placements. This study has provided the first in-depth evaluation of social worker contact planning in special guardianship, and the first investigation of special guardians’ views on contact.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 23 August 2019

Clive Diaz, Hayley Pert and Nigel Patrick Thomas

The research reported here forms part of a study of children’s participation in children in care reviews and decision making in one local authority in England. The purpose…

Abstract

Purpose

The research reported here forms part of a study of children’s participation in children in care reviews and decision making in one local authority in England. The purpose of this paper is to outline the views of 11 social workers and 8 Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) and explores their perceptions of children’s participation in reviews. The paper considers the barriers to young people participating meaningfully in decision making and how practice could be improved in this vital area so that children’s voices are more clearly heard and when possible acted upon by professionals.

Design/methodology/approach

The data reported here derive from a qualitative cross-sectional study in one English local authority. The entire study involved interviewing children in care, IROs, social workers and senior managers about young people’s participation in their reviews. Findings from the interviews with young people and senior managers have been reported elsewhere (Diaz and Aylward, 2018; Diaz et al., 2018); this paper focusses on the interviews with social workers and IROs. Specifically, the authors were interested in gaining insight into their views about the following research questions: To what degree do children and young people meaningfully participate in reviews? What are the barriers to participation? What can be done to improve children and young people’s participation in reviews?

Findings

During this process seven themes were identified, five of which concerned barriers to effective participation and two which concerned factors that appeared to support effective participation. These are summarised below and explained further in the following sections. Barriers to effective participation: social workers and IROs’ high caseloads and ensuing time pressures; high turnover of social workers and inexperienced staff; lack of understanding and training of professionals in participation; children and young people’s negative experiences of reviews and consequent reticence in taking part; and structure and process of the review not being child-centred. Factors which assist participation: quality of the relationship between the child and professionals; and the child or young person chairing their own review meeting.

Research limitations/implications

Although these findings reflect practice in one local authority, their consistency with other research in this area suggests that they are applicable more widely.

Practical implications

The practice of children chairing their own reviews was pioneered by The Children’s Society in North West England in the 1990s (Welsby, 1996), and has more recently been implemented with some success by IROs in Gloucestershire (see Thomas, 2015, p. 47). A key recommendation from this study would be for research to explore how this practice could be developed and embedded more widely. Previous research has noted the tension between the review being viewed as an administrative process and as a vehicle of participation (Pert et al., 2014). This study highlighted practitioner reservations about young people chairing their own reviews, but it also gave examples of how this had been done successfully and how it could improve children’s participation in decision making. At the very least, it is essential that young people play a role in deciding where the review is going to take place, when it will take place, who is going to be invited and what will be included on the agenda.

Social implications

The paper highlights that in this Local Authority caseloads for social workers were very high and this, combined with a high turnover of staff and an inexperienced workforce, meant that children in care struggled to have a consistent social worker. This often meant that young people were not able to build up a positive working relationship with their social worker, which negatively impacted on their ability to play a meaningful role in decision making.

Originality/value

There have been very few recent studies that have considered professionals’ perspectives of children’s participation in key meetings and decision making, so that this provides a timely and worthwhile contribution to this important area of work.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 14 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 August 2014

Gilbert Fan and Joan Nee Wey Khng

This paper aims to study the future of the Singapore association of social workers using causal layered analysis (CLA) and the Futures Triangle. In today’s rapidly…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to study the future of the Singapore association of social workers using causal layered analysis (CLA) and the Futures Triangle. In today’s rapidly changing world, professional associations have to re-evaluate their roles to remain relevant. This paper presents an analysis of findings from a study on the level of alliance of social workers with their professional association. By critically examining underlying issues beneath common beliefs held by social workers that impede, promote or sustain change with their professional association, we can gain a deeper understanding into their level of alliance with their association. Insights toward current issues faced by the association as well as its alternative and preferred futures could be illuminated.

Design/methodology/approach

Inayatullah’s “Futures Triangle” was used to deepen the findings of the study on the level of alliance of social workers with their professional association from the lens of CLA (Inayatullah, 2004). The study employed interviews with 27 social workers in Singapore, selected through purposive sampling.

Findings

Alternative scenarios and preferred futures of the Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) that were postulated from the interviews reinforce a need for more targeted recruitment campaigns. It also calls for regionalization and globalization of SASW to maximize its potentials.

Originality/value

The paper suggests how a social work association might be able to reposition its role in relation to its stakeholders to promote and sustain itself. SASW could do so through positioning itself as the “National Geographic” beacon for social workers in Singapore to reach out to the world.

Details

Foresight, vol. 16 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-6689

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 October 2007

Marja Gastelaars and Marleen van der Haar

The purpose of this paper is to explore how Dutch social workers make sense of the cultural otherness produced by clients with migrant origins and relates this to the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how Dutch social workers make sense of the cultural otherness produced by clients with migrant origins and relates this to the various discourses that constitute the legacy of Dutch social work.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper relies on a historical discourse analysis based on secondary sources and on a fieldwork study performed in a contemporary organization.

Findings

The analysis reveals three different discourses. The first relates to how the association of social work with government policy produces a generalised “otherness” as the practical starting point for the social workers’ interventions, and a specific kind of cultural indifference. The second concerns a discourse around lifestyle interventions influenced by a specific tradition of institutionalised diversity called pillarization. Finally, there is a discourse in which social workers are expressly expected to be “open” to their individual clients’ specific backgrounds which generates scope for a “constructivist” conceptualization of cultural diversity.

Originality/value

The paper offers insights into the discursive construction of social work.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 27 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 October 2014

Johanna Kallio and Arttu Saarinen

The purpose of this paper is to examine the attitudes of street-level bureaucrats from different agencies and sectors of the Finnish welfare state, namely municipal social

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the attitudes of street-level bureaucrats from different agencies and sectors of the Finnish welfare state, namely municipal social workers, diaconal workers of the Lutheran church, benefit officials of the Social Security Institution and officials of private unemployment funds.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors are interested in the following questions: What are the attitudes of street-level bureaucrats towards the labour market allowance? What is the impact of individual characteristics? The study utilised the unique national survey data of different groups of street-level bureaucrats from the year 2011 (total N=2,313). The dependent variables focus on legitimacy of the basic level of labour market allowance and sanction policies. Analyses are built around five independent variables which measure professional, personal interest and ideological factors.

Findings

There are differences both between and within groups of Finnish street-level bureaucrats with regard to their attitudes concerning the labour market allowance. Social and diaconal workers believe more often than officials that the level of labour market allowance is too low, and offer less support for the idea that an unemployed person should take any job that is offered or have their unemployment security reduced. The results show that the attitudes of bureaucrats are explained by length of work history, economic situation and ideological factors.

Originality/value

There have been very few analyses comparing attitudes among different groups of bureaucrats. The present study is intended to fill this gap in the literature.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 34 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 May 1987

Y. Meller and D. Macarov

The gradual shift from industrial to service economies which has been characteristic of all the western democracies for at least the last century has not been reflected in…

Abstract

The gradual shift from industrial to service economies which has been characteristic of all the western democracies for at least the last century has not been reflected in research on the services in a manner commensurate with the pace and importance of that shift. Although there are semantic and practical difficulties in defining exactly what is meant by services, one can discern a rough continuum running through most definitions and categorisations, with creating, altering, or combining material objects on one end of the continuum, and dealing with an individual's problems and needs through the use of a helping relationship on the other. Using this model, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of research studies into work attitudes, patterns, influences, productivity and so forth, have been towards the materials‐altering, or industrial, end of the continuum.

Details

International Journal of Manpower, vol. 8 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7720

Article
Publication date: 6 October 2020

Anna Olejasz Lyneborg

Adopting the perspective of “institutional work” within neoinstitutionalism and “organizational professionalism” from the sociology of professions, this article…

Abstract

Purpose

Adopting the perspective of “institutional work” within neoinstitutionalism and “organizational professionalism” from the sociology of professions, this article contributes to current theoretical discussions on agency in settings of institutional multiplicity.

Design/methodology/approach

This article investigates how social workers in Danish child protection services respond to the implementation of technologies of government targeted at shaping the conduct of conduct to achieve certain results. The article draws on a qualitative case study in a child protection agency and centers on the use of assessment committees as a case of technologies of government.

Findings

The article identifies divergent ways that social workers manage and make sense of contradiction, e.g. by means of detachment of accountability, expansion of practice and internalization of logics in professionalism. Thus, the article sheds light on how social workers cope with discrepant requirements fostered by technologies of government.

Originality/value

As research has focused on the potential constraining effects of technologies of government and discrepancy of logics, limited attention has been given to how the potential discrepancy is nevertheless reconciled, negotiated and handled in the everyday run-of-the-mill practice. Adopting the perspective of “institutional work” within neoinstitutionalism and “organizational professionalism” from the sociology of professions, this article contributes to current theoretical discussions on agency in settings of institutional multiplicity. Additionally, the article sheds light on how social workers manage and make sense of discrepant requirements fostered by technologies of government, reflecting empirical examples of a profession in transition.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 41 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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