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Within this assignment I will demonstrate the knowledge gained in my practice since starting my post qualifying degree and consider my future learning and development. This training has been about gaining or updating knowledge, but I have also gained further insight into how I work as a practising social worker, I would agree to Gillian Ruch's (lecture notes, February 2008) comments about taking care of yourself quoting Simmonds, le Riche and Tanner that:
"Knowledge of others cannot be acquired without knowledge of oneself. Knowledge of others cannot be substituted for knowledge of oneself. Knowledge of oneself cannot be acquired without a relationship with others.' (Simmonds, in le Riche and Tanner 1998:96)
For this unit I had to observe a child between the ages of 0-5 years. I had mixed emotions and anxieties. The anxiety was about visiting a place I had very little knowledge of, what would I be observing? What would the young person I was observing be like? Was I competent enough? This helped me to reflect on my own anxieties when visiting children in need in their homes. It has been an important learning experience to understand the impact of my presence that might have on children and their families.
The challenge was to observe a child without any specific reasons or concerns with regards to that child. Therefore observing a child without any professional skills of communicating and engaging children, raised the question: "How can a professional give up the sense of being in control and become a student again, lay down one's tools and simply be open to what is happening?" (Segal 2002-3, p16).
Reflecting on this activity I realised the danger in my actual practice. All of us have our own preconceptions, our particular mind sets and prejudices. We have a tendency to see what we are looking for and to look for only what we want to know about. Rarely do we take time to stop and watch intently. These observations sessions offered me with the opportunity to develop ability to remain detached, to suspend judgements and refrain from participation.
Assignment on ADHD:
I was able to consider current research and ways of supporting children with ADHD and their families.
Throughout my research for this assignment I found little evidence that socioeconomic and environmental factors caused ADHD, I also found little evidence that poor parenting or a hectic home life caused ADHD. There are different approaches to treatment of ADHD such as Medical approach and Behavioural modification approach. To date it is unknown what actually causes this condition, which is arguable and so makes it much more difficult in treating ADHD. In addition to this some of the researches suggest that the medications for ADHD can cause potentially harmful side effects and does not treat the cause of Attention Deficit Disorder. I am aware that most doctors would argue that the medication used is safe and beneficial. However in my opinion it is important to recognise that ADHD is a disorder that is managed and not cured. Therefore it is essential for all agencies to work together: medically, socially and educationally, with a common understanding of the whole approach for treatment. Behaviour management techniques take time and great patience on everybody's part. But the techniques have been shown to be very effective. In my experience the importance is given to curative rather than preventive measures. I am of the opinion that children with ADHD should get a package of treatments involving the medicines which are closely monitored by doctors and parental involvement with other agencies support for them to manage the children's behaviour with setting appropriate boundaries.
Practice in Partnership with Children, Young People, Their Families and Carers
This piece of work highlighted the importance of working in partnership with professionals as well as families to get the best possible outcome for the children. For this particular assignment I tried to reflect on my own understanding about working in partnerships whilst working with the family.
Family Rights Group suggests a definition of partnership, 'Partnership is for each other, rights to information, accountability, competence and values accorded to each individual input. In short, each partner is seen as having something to contribute, power is shared, decisions are made jointly and roles are not only represented but backed by legal and moral rights.' (Family Rights Group, 1991). Children's safety and welfare should be paramount. A learning curve for me was the understanding of importance of self awareness and how this helps to promote the service users best interests (Ruch 2005). It was crucial to consider theories of attachment, child centred services and task centred approach, whilst working with the family to achieve best outcome for the family. It is important to be mindful to practice in an anti oppressive and anti discriminatory way at all times. It was enriching experience to recognise the importance of doing assessment with the families and not on the families addressing power imbalance between professionals and service users.
Participation, partnerships and networks
This unit gave me opportunity to study thoroughly on one specific subject. As a practitioner working in a very busy front line team it is always hard to go back to become student to learn and unlearn. I was always interested in gaining in depth knowledge in the area of unaccompanied asylum seekers. This study answers the question,' Can Collaborative Practices be developed to enhance the services for Looked after Children with specific reference to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children [UASC]'.
"Collaborative working" is often used to refer to "the process of working together with other professions" (Quinney 2006: 10; Balloch and Taylor 2001) with Whittington (2003) defining it as "partnership in action" (Whittington 2003:16). This area was chosen due to the author's experience of working in a front line team where such examples of working collaboratively with professionals when dealing with UASC are prevalent, and strategies for improved collaboration are always needed.
Home office reports that there are approximately 360 children are trafficked into and within the UK each year. Therefore it is therefore necessary when considering what strategies need to be developed to address these shortcomings and to build on pieces of practice that supports all the professionals including fosters carers and social workers to ensure the children are protected. The study also raises flaws in training to both carers and social workers with regards to current legislation and policies to be practiced. Lack of understanding of such important information may result in ineffective responses to identify the risk factors and react efficiently towards it. This study gave me opportunity to acquire conceptual understanding and recommendations for my future interventions with such vulnerable group of children.
Innovative Regulatory Practice
This particular unit turned out really very hard due to many reasons. The members of my group were from same place and I was not in the same area. Initially there were difficulties of distance and co ordination and I started feeling left out. However with confrontation and with the help from tutors we managed to come up with a good plan of actions and the presentation was prepared as a group activity. I was able to reflect on my style, creativity and interpersonal skills and used them all to be creative in the presentation. I enjoyed researching a topic that I needed further knowledge of: the subject of Trafficked children, which has proved very useful in my work for me and colleagues. On reflection it has shown me how research and knowledge can be effectively used and strategies can employed in working with people to change things together and develop new ways of working which improve practice, knowledge and skills. This very much linked with my Research topic and gained further knowledge in subject matter.
Taking a role as work based supervisor for a final year student for their 6 months
Placement in the team
This unit enabled me to reflect on my own practices and support a student in placement. I am aware that people work and learn differently and have different needs. I have learnt the importance of balancing and developing my own theorist and reflector styles of learning which has been facilitated by my post graduate training. It has been valuable to understand my own position to be able to recognise and consider other people's perspectives in my styles of learning. This analysis enabled me to use different approaches and strategies to help students and others to learn and develop. I am more confident to enable others in the work place. I am able to use the theoretical knowledge gained from the course and practical experiences to enable my student to acquire the same.
Aims for the Future
As social workers we are tasked with making judgments and decisions about individual's lives on a daily basis it is therefore essential that analysis and reflection take place to ensure that those decisions are the right ones. To do this job effectively requires self-knowledge, support and professional competence at the very least. "The nature of the training, ongoing supervision and consultation that are required is something that needs urgent attention at many levels" (Rustin 2005, p19 in Ruch, 2008).
The knowledge gained in completing my post qualifying degree will enable me to incorporate critical reflection into my everyday work practice with service users, student social workers and other professionals across agencies. As usual, social workers are seen to be the reasons why children die when incidents happen. There is a great responsibility on everyone to try to change our culture of blame and help develop personal responsibility and sense of community. Having a more thorough knowledge of the process of change, everyone is different and has different views, enables me to work in such an environment. The course has provided an opportunity to be challenged, learn new things and make sure that I continue to do so.