Defining Social Work

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Defining Social Work

Social Work is a professional service, committed to helping vulnerable service users to promote positive changes in their lives. A Social Worker will help them to address their problem/s and aims to assist a service user to overcome serious difficulties in their lives, providing care, protection or counselling through social support. Social Work practice consists of the professional application of Social Work values, skills and techniques. The main five core values of a Social Worker are; Human dignity and worth, Social Justice, Service to humanity, integrity & Competence. Social Justice as suggested by Bradley (2008) the first value, refers to the idea of creating a society or institution which bases itself on equality, provides solidarity and understands the values of human rights and dignity of every human being. The importance of this value was highlighted in the Lamming Report, where social work did not promote the rights of Victoria Climbie. Competence as a value is about having the correct skills and knowledge applied in the most appropriate way. Competence in a social worker should be an exercise of careful judgement, taken with responsible and professional steps within boundaries of their professional experience to ensure the competence of their work, effectively carry out their role and to protect service users from harm. Incompetency was shown, again in the Lamming Report. There was a huge lack of competence with Victoria Climbie, where none of the key agencies had followed what were relatively straightforward procedures on how to respond to a child, where there is concern of deliberate harm.

Social Work core skills are linked to core values. Both are just as important in the role of a social worker. The two recognised skills in social work assessment fall under two main headings, Interpersonal and Administrative skills. Interpersonal skills are the most important for a social worker. Interpersonal skills enable the worker to negotiate, rationalise and systematise as well as engage meaningfully with the service user. The importance and understanding of interpersonal skills needs be impeccable as decisions are made by social workers that are based on judgment and may, if assessed unfairly have devastating effects. Baby Peters case is a prime example of misjudgement. There were over 8 services and agencies involved in Baby Peters case but due to a lack of interpersonal skills, Baby Peter’s life ended before it had even began. Social workers on the case had only made judgement by observations. There had been evidence that he had been ‘harmed’ by doctors on several occasions but due to poor judgement this had been dismissed. Had the social workers and health officers come together, they may have been able to rationalise and come to an agreement that Baby Peter was in fact being severely abused. There was no evidence of negotiating skills in the case. Administrative skills are equally as important in the role of a social worker. It is important that a social worker is organised and has excellent communication skills, including writing skills. Baby Peter’s case is again an example of where several social workers and agencies failed to communicate, showing poor administrative skills. In the Serious Case Review of Baby Peter, it is said ‘It took seven weeks to arrange the meeting due to a combinations of administrative failures on the part of legal services and lack of urgency on their part and on the part of the social work managers’. Had the administrative skills in Baby Peters case been more thorough, the devastating effects of the loss of life of Baby Peter could have been prevented. Had the social workers involved in the case, communicated amongst each other and with the agencies and health officials involved, it would have been very obvious that Baby Peter was being harmed. 3.2 (not finished)

The key principles of promoting anti discriminatory practice for a social worker are...
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