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Working With Different Service User Groups

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Explore the challenges faced by the differences in working with three Service User Groups - adults, older people and children. Discuss how, by drawing on relevant life course theories, your communication skills would need to be modified in order to meet these challenges and remain effective, anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive.

Interacting via communication with Service users is of one of the highest important aims for social / care workers providing care. Each individual case is unique and I will be explaining how communication skills differ from each person to the next.

There are many different life course theories that can be used to explain how a person develops through the stages of life. In this assignment I will be looking at Eric Berne's Transactional analysis for the adult group and showing how adults have to change their tone and manner as they are seen as the teachers for the next generation. I will be explaining Cunning and Henry's Disengagement theory as this is a very important phase for older people and communication can be limited because of the perils of old age. Also I will be looking at Piaget's cognitive development theory and Bolwby's attachment theory in relation to children and how these theories affect communication. Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development contains elements for all three age groups so I will be looking briefly at the different stages involved, and I will also be looking at any challenges that occur within the groups and what skills are needed to overcome this via social work / care workers.

Interacting via communication with Service users is of one of the highest important aims for social / care workers providing care. Each individual case is unique and I will be explaining how communication skills differ from each one person to the next. There are many different life course theories that can be used to explain how a person goes through the stages of life. For adults I will be taking you through Eric Berne's Transactional analysis and for the elderly group I will look at Cunning and Henry Disengagement Theory and how this affects communication for the older generation and then I will be looking at Piaget's cognitive development theory and Bowlby's attachment theory and how these theories affect communication within the children's group. Then I will be showing how Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development are involved in all three service user groups and I will also be looking at any challenges that occur within the groups and what skills are needed to overcome this via social work / care workers.

A life course is the advancement a person takes from birth to cessation (Crawford and Walker, 2003 p. 3) Also (Newman and Newman, 2007 p. 185) shows the life course as a perspective which helps to explain how altering societal predicaments affect development and combination of the phases of family and work life over a number of years. (Fiske, 1982 p. 2) explains communication as being an action that every person can identify with, by talking, listening to the television or distributing knowledge these are all forms of communication. He describes two main studies of communication as being either an expression of words or a creation and replacement of meanings.

If we take a look at the Transactional analysis theory (Woods, 2010) shows that Eric Berne's theory was about ego states which are parent, adult and child. It covers a wide range of exclusive advancement including communication, behaviour and personality. Looking at adult communication he saw this as being the main voice used to influence the whole learning process. He believes that if someone is talking in a childish manner automatically the adult will respond with a voice of authority, either in a sarcastic tone or a caring parenting manner. (Chapman, 1995) also shows that transactional analysis is used for therapeutic, personal development and communication; it helps a person understand one's self. To communicate we use our own feelings which can shift at any one given time, and to reply we will use the exact way of thinking. So to have stable conversations an adult needs to act interested to what is being said and show the person speaking that they have their full attention and this will make for a stronger relationship between them both.

Favourable communication according to (Weger and Polcar, 2002) is the basic domain of an interpersonal friendship. If you offer support and are willing to provide comfort through good and bad times then this will in turn be a healthy natural relationship.

(Wolvin, 2010 p.144) believes the art of communication is to listen, with doing this you are better able to understand the concept of communicating, and then you can identify and evaluate the question helping you to make sense of it.

Behavioural issues can be defined by a person's determined state, they show up as objectives and by using these objectives a person will come up with a way of achieving their potential via talking. So by communicating it is up to the individual to put as much information into the conversation so the recipient can define their answer to make it a purposeful state (Ackoff, 1958)

(Nussbaum, 2000) states that elderly people have to regularly change their lifestyle to adapt to adjustments associated with getting older. Age can cause many challenges for communication, examples are: memory loss or loss of hearing. Because of these it could take considerable time for any acknowledgement whilst trying to communicate, they may tend to make inaccurate sentences and be less sensitive about issues that may otherwise hurt someone else's feelings. There are many theories linked to prosperous aging examples of these are: continuity theory, activity theory, socioemotional selectivity theory and disengagement theory.

Looking at the disengagement theory (Maddox, 1964) states that the disengagement is the final stage of the life course process. Life goals are a very important phrase in everybody's life and this seems to extend through to the older generation also. The belief is that psychological departure leads to total exclusion from the older person's social life, and without this communication will be very limited as they may not have any family of friends visiting on a daily basis.

Communication with older people can be a complicated process. At the time when it is needed the most communication seems to be a burden because of the life processes which come with the old age. To overcome some of the frustrations of speaking to an older person if you allow extra time for them to speak and sit face to face with them, then if there is any hearing loss at least the person can watch your lips to understand what you are saying to them. If you speak slowly and clearly or even write down some of the conversation to explain in a bit more detail this then will help the person immensely and by doing this you are showing respect and helpfulness towards to person you are talking to (Robinson et al. 2006)

There are many challenges involved with working with older people, (Hepple, 2004) shows there are many approaches that can be used to try and boost communication issues. Group and behavioural approach or reality familiarisation is widely used to try and amend the forgotten memories. Whichever approach is used will depend mainly on the resources of the institution that is providing the care plan for the service users involved.

Looking at Piaget's cognitive development (Feldman, 2004) believes that his work was not the dominant competitor for a while but now it has accomplished extensive significance to researchers again. Some critics thought his work was to complex and to widespread but his stages still form the basis of the developing mind. (Boeree, 1999) shows the stages of development for a child as being the Sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations and the formal operations stage. According to (Koprowska, 2005 p. 97) a baby within the first couple of months will try and make blubbering noises in response to you talking to them and will only start trying to develop simple words by the age of one. So the best means of communication with young children would be via play and interaction. Children do not enjoy sitting for long periods of time so by drawing or innovative games could be the easiest way for communication to take place for the younger age groups in Piaget's stages.

(Geddes, 2007) believes that using Bowlby's attachment theory will help in the understanding of sensitive experiences which in turn helps you to communicate with young children. The basis of communication is to show your inner self via your feelings, thoughts and creativity. So by looking at Bowlby, the attachment for a child will help with their future experiences if the start of their life is one of security within a family unit. The child then will be able to examine the world and if there are any pressures they can always return to their safe haven for security. With a negative attachment a child will struggle with communication and relationships. They tend to be insecure and prefer to keep themselves to themselves as they don't respond well to any attention and can start to be disruptive and aggressive because they feel vulnerable and out of their depth.

The Children Act 1989 sets out the rights of the child, so the child needs to engage in any outcomes that will modify their lives and future. Social workers need impressive skills in communication as there are many barriers that can stop any interaction with the child so they need the ability to be able to cope under any form of pressure or obstacle placed before them. Social workers deal with many families and young children all with very different backgrounds examples of these are: children who are leaving care, children who have behavioural problems and children who may have health problems or disabilities, each case is different so the social worker needs to be able to produce a care plan and have the skills in place to communicate on every different level to provide the best possible care for the service users involved. (Koprowska, 2005 p. 94)

Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development involve all three age groups, when looking at children Erikson's stages progress through at least four of them. (Adoption media, 1995) states that if a child wants to proceed onto the next stage they need to complete the one before. A child will develop trust if well cared for and be insecure if not; this will show up in all the stages there is a negative to every positive. So a child will only learn from what they are taught and if they are shown the right way to develop through the various stages then as they become parents they will be secure and happy to show their children the right upbringing to carry on the process to the next generation.

(Zastrow and Ashman, 2007 p. 444) states that the seventh stage of Erikson's life development is Generativity versus stagnation. Generativity is instructing family and friends to make improvements in their lives to make the future better for their offspring. This will involve safeguarding and improving the lives of future generations for a better quality of life. Stagnation on the other hand is the selfish side of the stage, adults who only think about their own needs and are not willing to take anyone else's feeling's into consideration.

(Greene and Kropf, 2009 p. 90) shows Erikson's final stage as being Integrity versus Despair. Absoluteness is achieved if the person involved has leaded a full and complete life, dealing with everyday disappointments as well as accomplishments successfully. Despair on the other hand is for the people who fear death and the ones who have not accomplished everything they wanted to do in their lives and wish for another chance to achieve this.

If communication is not sort in the identity stage (Sanchez, 2002) states that this could affect self confidence in later life. New ideas start from communication, a person needs to be able to express their thoughts and feelings. Interpersonal communication through all of Erikson's stages will help an individual have a healthy developed identity.

(SCIE 2010) shows how social workers have to work by their codes of ethics and values showing respect, empathy and a genuine helpfulness towards the service user they are working with. They will always provide a complete care package to help empower the individual to deliver the best possible outcome. If the social care worker uses an interpersonal approach this in turn will guide the service user to help them decide how their care is achieved and help make the decision process a group decision, so communication is a key element to this approach which will then help with the relationship between the user and the social care worker.

To summarise there are many different ways to communicate with the three service user groups. People who work in the social work/care sector are trained to be able to customise their expertise to care and communicate at all levels. If the care worker shows empathy and helpfulness they will get more back from the service user then they would if you started the conversation with an aggressive attitude. Service users what to be listened to, they want you to understand what care they expect. You will have to change the way you speak in all different circumstances, speaking to children will be completely different to speaking to an adult or an elderly person. Body language and facial gestures also show as an important part of communicating with someone, even repeating what the other has said will show that you are taking them seriously. You need to be able to change your approach for all different situations and use different interventions to cater for each individual seeking care.

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