Examining Best Practices in Macro Social Work

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Examining Best Practices in Macro Social Work

SWU411
March 8, 2013

Abstract
The concept of “best practice” is widely used in business management, healthcare, and in the social work field to mean the most efficient and effective way of doing things: ways that use the minimum of resources and yet return the optimum results. In the context of professional social work, often there are built-in tensions between the pressure for efficiency and the need to respect the individuality of clients and to work at their pace. Social workers must take into account the complexity and the difficulty of tasks where there are no straightforward actions which could promote the welfare of one person or group without possibly causing harm, or restricting their own or other’s rights and freedoms. Best practice does not mean that the process or outcomes are perfect, nor that there are no constraints on what can be accomplished, but it should indicate that by having utilized evidence based practices (EBP), the best that could be achieved given a specific situation, with a specific set of people and circumstances, resulted.

Examining Best Practices in Macro Social Work
The concept of “best practice” is widely used in healthcare, business management and in the social work field to mean the most efficient and effective way of doing things: ways that use the minimum of resources and yet return the optimum results. There is a danger that, in social work, the best practice goal can easily become a functional—but too utilitarian—concept. In the context of professional social work, often there are built-in tensions between the ongoing pressure for efficiency, frequently due to a lack of resources and funding, and the need to respect the individuality of one’s clients and to work at their pace. Social workers must take into account the complexity of individual emotions and understanding, along with the difficulty of tasks that they and their clients are to perform where there are no straightforward actions which are guaranteed to promote the welfare of one person or group without possibly causing emotional distress, harm, or restricting of their own, their clients’ or other’s rights and freedoms. Best practices must fit within a critical framework determined by the social worker’s agency and the specified norms of the profession. But it does not mean that the process or outcomes are perfect. Best practice does not assure the social worker that there will not be any constraints on what can be accomplished, but it should indicate the best that could be achieved given a certain situation, with a specific group of people, and under a particular set of circumstances. Since macro-level social work will, by definition, usually affect a large group of people, or a large geographic area, then the best practices to be followed in such work should be evidenced based practices (EBP) so that a measure of security is afforded those affected by the social worker’s actions. As defined by Bricout, PoIlio, Edmond, and McBride (2008), “EBP refers to the manner in which the social worker methodically culls the best available scientific evidence and uses that evidence guided by professional experience and values and ethics (i.e., professional wisdom) to obtain outcomes that reflect client preferences as well as professional judgment” (p. 601). When it is evidenced based, best practices can be considered the product of the evidence gathering as well as the process to be followed in the performance of one’s work. “As a product, EBP refers to the most effective practices, treatments, interventions, and protocols that are based on the most rigorous scientific evidence available” (Gambrill in Bricout et al, 2008, p. 601). A social worker in macro-practice usually requires evidence that is more broadly defined when compared to micro- or mezzo-practice. Where micro-level services provided are most often concerned with an individual or an...
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