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Throughout their careers, social work students and practitioners need to demonstrate an understanding of critical and reflective practice. The Professional Capabilities Framework sets out how newly-qualified social workers can achieve this, and become 'critical practitioners' who are able to make decisions in fast-moving situations. This book is a complete guide for those practitioners who wish to engage with action learning as a way of developing critically reflective practice. The authors use Action Learning to explore fundamental aspects of good social work including for example person centred and anti-oppressive practice.
The notions of social and emotional intelligence and being critically reflective are also explored in the context of action learning. This book is practical, skills-based and essential reading for all social workers who wish to extend their understanding and knowledge. Sign up to the hive.
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Discover bookshops local to you. Enter your postcode and search for your nearest Hive network shop. Student Discount Reviews Help Contact. The need for children to have a say in less dramatic circumstances was also expressed. While this might not strictly be regarded as communication, it does indicate that for these young people, actions often speak louder than words, and a way to initiate and sustain good communication is to participate in activities they enjoy with them. Regular visits were felt to be important, or just a telephone call to see how the young person was. There was a sense that lines of communication between social workers and young people were often cut off or inactive for long periods of time, which made the young people feel frustrated and abandoned.
The communication of warmth and genuine care was also felt to be crucial to building the relationship between social worker and young person. Again, this suggests that social workers need to communicate commitment and genuineness as part of their work.
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Social workers need to be able to anticipate and prepare to be able to tackle user assumptions in a useful way that helps to gain an insight into the relationship. There was some debate within the group as to the best way of training and selecting social workers to be able to communicate with young people.
Many participants said that they felt that social workers judged them on the grounds of what was in their file. Several stated that some things in their file were not true. Another stated that when she had been allowed to see her file, the many positive comments in it boosted her confidence. Overall there was some anxiety that young people should be allowed to see their file, and that the information in it should be agreed upon.
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Other participants also volunteered to do this with their own, and there was general chat about the tags, what they mean, where they might be and so on. This incident was important because it demonstrated that these young people may be communicating through other media, such as graffiti or art more generally, and that social workers might be able to use this as part of their communication with young people.
In this focus group, carers tended not to focus explicitly on communication skills per se. Rather, what they described were desirable principles and outcomes which, in order to be implemented successfully, need to be underpinned by good communication skills, or values which need to be expressed through good communication skills. A key theme was that, while there is a perception of poor communications practice among individual social workers, these are seen to be the result of systems and organisational structures.
For example, the lack of time social workers have to spend with carers not only means that there is simply less opportunity to communicate, but also that carers feel they are not being treated with respect and care, which inhibits the development of a good relationship. Listening was once again identified as a crucial skill.
Communication between social workers and interprofessional communication was felt to be crucial in providing a good service to carers. The keeping of good, accurate records, and the keeping of these records so that they could be referred to by other workers or at a later date, was felt to be extremely important.
There was some frustration that, particularly now with the opportunities opened up by IT, social workers seem to have to replicate work and ask the same questions repeatedly which is seen as a result of inadequate record keeping.
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The perception that social services operated on an issue-by-issue basis, rather than responding to the individual in a consistent and holistic way, was another organisational barrier to good communication. Carers found it frustrating when social workers said they would respond, or that they would do something, and nothing then happened, leaving the carer themselves to chase it up. Again, problems and obstacles at an organisational level were identified as part of the problem here.
However, it was also felt that social workers needed to have the personal communication skills to be able to say honestly when they could not help with a problem, but to be able to refer the carer on to other appropriate sources of help and support. Another central issue was that of communicating respect and care for the carer themselves. For example, it was suggested that social workers need to address whether carers want to carry on being carers at all, rather than assuming that they would. The principle of treating the carer as expert in their own situation was identified as crucial in the successful communication of respect between social worker and carer.
The principle of partnership was also identified as important. It was felt that carers often were not given the information they need in order to make the most of their abilities.
There was a need for clear, accessible written information for carers. On the whole, carers did not feel it was necessary for social workers to have a wide range of specialist communication skills. However, it was felt to be important a that social workers were aware when users were able to communicate but not directly - for example, where they could communicate through their carers, and to make the effort to engage with that, and b that social workers referred to specialists, particularly medical specialists, when necessary.
The use of jargon, primarily in written communication but also in spoken communication, was criticised across the board.
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Carers did feel that, with the increased opportunity for carers to become involved at an organisational level, they were able to challenge social workers where unnecessarily complex or technical language was used. While they recognised the usefulness of jargon as a short-hand between professionals, they felt it was important for social workers to use language appropriate to a situation. The main skills identified are interviewing and report writing.
As these appear high on the list of skills taught in the academic setting it appears that practice assessors and academic tutors share this understanding.
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Specific and technical skills are regarded as secondary and no specific teaching and learning is identified as necessary. Nevertheless, it is recognised that such skills may be important in certain settings and with certain client groups. The emphasis here is on learning through experience in placement, rather than teaching in academic settings. This also raises a key question about assessment. Practice assessors overwhelmingly suggest that the assessment of communication skills is challenging for two main reasons: first, that such skills are amorphous and subjective; and second, that the act of assessment is dangerous to the demonstration of effective communication skills as it becomes artificial.
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The relationship between practice assessors and the teaching institution is central. Practice assessors are not always clear about their role in relation to the academic setting and there is considerable concern about this, even where academic institutions are providing workshops and other support to the practice teachers with whom they work. This concern pervades both at the level of teaching and learning and at the level of assessment, for the reasons described above. Practice assessors identify some ways in which the teaching and learning of communication skills on placement can be supported by teaching institutions.
A lack of clear distinction between core and specific skills is also a key issue for practice assesors, as is the case across the research. Nevertheless, practice assesors do identify a small number of technical skills that they feel are important. These are British Sign Language, Makaton, communication through play, and communication through art. These skills, rarely identified as being taught in teaching institutions, are identified as the kind of specific skill that should be taught in practice, although only where the setting or client group demands it.
There is no expectation among practice assesors that specific and technical skills should be taught in the academic setting. These principles are also related to the aims in communication of empowering users, being aware of power differentials, and of breaking down institutionalisation where possible. In particular, they indicate a strong awareness of the importance of interprofessional communication skills. This is unsurprising since they are currently studying on Social Work courses and responses are likely to reflect that learning.
At the same time, they also make little of learning in placement in an explicit way although a great deal is implied about their view that it is in practice settings that they pick up practice-useful communication skills. While students have a very user-centred sense of values and principles, the principles they identify also suggest an emphasis on the extent and limitations of the social worker role. It would also manifest itself in appropriate selfpresentation, including dressing in a way that makes the user feel most at ease. This raises the question 'How will they get to know this?
What if it is a name badge that makes the service user most at ease? Students also suggest that shadowing is good preparation for practice. Nevertheless, on the question of assessment, there is concern that the academic setting has a preference for assessment in the written mode, while assessment of communication skills is more properly the concern of placement emphasising verbal and non-written modes, which are seen to come more naturally to practice settings. A fault line is identified between these settings and their concomitant modes of assessment, and it is unclear how the gap can be bridged in such a way that students do not experience learning about communication as fractured.
Teaching and learning communication skills in social work education. Teaching and learning communication skills in social work education Summary. Teaching and learning communication skills in social work education Appendix B: The SCIE practice review: Teaching and learning in social work - Communication full text Findings by question How do you distinguish and differentiate between core transferable skills and specific skills including technical skills? What is the breadth and depth of skills training needed to perform the range of duties and tasks for beginning practice and for qualifying level?
How do you identify the underpinning principles and values of communication for all categories of social work delivery? What are the range of teaching and learning opportunities that can be incorporated into the preparation for and in practice settings? Findings by stakeholder Bibliography This practice review addresses the area of communication skills with children, adults and those with particular communication needs, although it is, of necessity, a general review within its remit and further research could focus more specifically on each group identified. The practice review was undertaken by a team of academics from Brunel University.
Findings by question 1. Overview Respondents were asked to give an overview of what communication skills are taught at their institution and to give a description of the teaching and learning methods used. For purposes of initial analysis, however, the researchers used as a working definition the QAA benchmark standards for communication skills required in social work practice, which state that: … honours graduates in social work should be able to use CandIT methods and techniques for a variety of purposes including professional communications, data storage and retrieval and information searching.
A comprehensive list of required standards is given: Make effective contact with individuals and organisations for a range of objectives, by verbal, paper-based and electronic means.
Clarify and negotiate the purpose of such contacts and the boundaries of their involvement. Listen actively to others, engage appropriately with the life experiences of service users, understand critically their viewpoint and overcome personal prejudices…. Use both verbal and non-verbal cues to guide interpretation. Identify and use opportunities for purposeful and supportive communication with users within their everyday living situations.
Follow and develop an argument and evaluate the viewpoints and evidence of others.