Collaborative Practice in Social Care Work
Section One: Collaborative Practice in SocialCare Work
Social care work involves the provision of resources, support, care, and advice to vulnerable individuals who experience marginalization, disadvantages, and special needs (Hepworth & Rooney, 2016, p.83). The various groups of individuals given this special attention include children, the elderly, disabled, homeless, families in crisis, and others. Collaboration in social care work aids individuals and organizations to combine efforts in addressing the challenges faced and deliver positive results that not achievable by working alone. The sole purpose of partnering with sponsors in social work is to enhance the quality of services and shed light on societal problems faced by the various groups of individuals.
The Importance of Collaborative Practice in Social Work
Collaborative Practice is essential in the Social Care Work at different organizational levels, which include the organization as a whole, the management level, and the individual level. In the organization as a whole, it has helped develop a cultureof continuous improvement of the quality of services, organizational structures,andprocesses. A clear focus of the organization’s purpose and outcomes is made visible to the people receiving the services through the collaboration of organizations.Collaborative organizations can share information and ideas and also agree on a methodology used in the provision of social care services(Sullivan & Skelcher, 2017, p.187).There are times when various departments don’t interact with each other and operate as isolated silos. The collaborative practice is enhanced bythe establishment of mixed-skillsteams that break down some walls in the organizations and the various connections between departments are tightened up. People should make mixed skills teams with different expertise, for instance, a psychologist, a doctor, and a teacher. Collaboration boosts the working morale in an organization since connections are made between teams and departments; hence people trust each other more(Katzenbach, 2015, p. 26).
At the management level, collaborative practice has brought forthseveral benefits, one of them is the validation of social care employees’ work and ideas motivates them to put more effort. The establishment of a feedback loop by social care workers and clients has been of significant contribution to conflict resolution and facilitation of focus on a particular problem. The management systems have established systems and structures that are in place to support social care workers by focusing on the assigned roles and responsibilities and havedeveloped an environment that requires time required for reflective practice by social care workers. Collaboration has improved the transparency of decision making, levels of consistency in training and incorporation of change management into day to day processes. The establishment of a conflict resolution system has led to the development of a systematic approach to the identification of common obstacles and solutions. In addition to these, the motivation of the workforce has empowered social care workers to lead on change management.
At an individual level, collaborative practice has been of great benefit to both the caregiver and the user of the service which include improved levels of service delivery, increased levels of involvement by individuals in social care, shared ideas and excellent practice, identification of learning and development needs, and shared concerns and experiences(Wahlbeck, 2015, p.38). By sharing the different interests and experiences, people do not suffer in isolation nor get depressed in the environment. The vulnerable individuals receiving care services get to talk about their problems freely with the social care worker. For instance, an alcoholic person may open up about the causes of their alcoholism. Individuals have also developed a solution-focused approach when they seek assistance, and the expectation is that the outcome will be positive. For instance,when one takes a blind child to receiveexceptional care, they expect that the child will be taught how to read, write, and will be in good hands. Individuals have acrucial role in the creation of evidence to be used by the management depending on the age, sex, race, and problem brought forth by the individual. However, various individuals have influenced change at different levels within the organizations and also within external partners.The benefits of collaboration with the users are from practices of recognizing diversity, inclusion, facilitating access, extensive involvement, and ensuring that it makes a positive impact in individual’s lives. For collaboration to be successful, there must be inter-personal trust between the caregiver and user required in establishing a shared vision and flexibility in roles and structures to allow creative development. Through collaborative practise, individuals have had a good grasp of each other’s roles, and they recognize when there is an overlap.
When social workers and clients are in a participatory, collaborative, and coordinated approach to shared decision-making around social care work, there is an inter-professional collaboration (Careau &Briere, 2015, p.375). It happens as a result of collaborative practice in social care work.Effective collaboration is achieved when social workers negotiate and apply the following;the unique contribution of each profession, the similarity in the jobs involved, causes of pressure or disputes between the occupations, teamwork, andwhat may be complementary between them.
The practitioners required to work together must have specified knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes, which are said to promise real satisfaction to social workers. The skills include adaptability to change, conflict resolution, excellent communication skills, use of formal and informal networks, and confidentiality. Practitioners must have the ability to negotiate working agreements and form cooperative working relationships with other professionals. One must also have the ability to challenge discrimination by other professions by making sure that each social worker’s voice is heard.Effective inter-professional collaboration has various characteristics, which include role clarification, collaborative teamwork, collaborative leadership, inter-professional communication, and dealing with inter-professional conflict(Orchard &Rykhoff p.86). Role clarification ensures that learners and practitioners understand roles assigned to themand the purposes of those in different professions and use that knowledge to meet client needs. Practitioners are required to refer to others appropriately and use sensitive language when communicating roles, skills, attitudes to others.
There is an expectation of the practitioners to perform their duties in a culturally respectful way with others. In collaborative leadership, practitioners work hand in hand with clients to formulate, implement, and evaluate social care services to improve people’s living standards. Social workers engage themselves and clients in dispute resolution hence developing a safe environment in which people feel free to express diverse opinions. Conflict resolution in the social work environment aids in developing a consensus amongst those with differing views, which gives the members a right to be heard no matter the outcome (Hughes, 2016, p. 35). For dispute resolution to be successful, the social caregivers and users are required to value the inherent positive nature of the conflict, identify the everyday situations likely to cause disagreements and take constructive steps to deal with the disputes.
Excellent inter-professional communication helps in the development of effective and trusting relationships between the caregiver and the user and in the establishment of team communication rules. Communication is effective when people know that they have a right to be heard and are listened to since they feel free to air out their different views. Collaborative teamwork reflects the elements of collaborative practice in social care work, which are trust, respect, shared decision making, and partnerships. Cooperation through collaborative practice with different professionals has the highest chance of assisting recipients of care in improving their living standards while enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the services.
Collaboration when various agencies and families or clients combine efforts, resources,and decision-making to solve a particular problem and focus on improving services given in social care work (Sullivan, 2017, p. 115). There are various levels of collaborative practice in inter-agency collaboration, which are networking, partnership, cooperation, and coalition. By networking, the agencies and clients are required to share information and hold dialogues to find a common ground of understanding. Agencies are required to form partnerships to share resources and address similar issues and involve conduct collaboration of various leaders in decision making. A coalition must be created for there to be shared leadership, defined roles and formalized relationships, and combining available resources from multiple systems. Through proper cooperation, agencies and clients can ensure that tasks are done, match the needs of the clients, limit duplication of services, and use available resources to the maximum.The following structures and functions are essential for inter-agency collaboration to be successful; establishment of a shared vision, have an operating conflict resolution system, participants are required to incorporate partnership objectives into their operations and budgets, focus on the sole purpose of the partnership, set attainable goals, and establish evaluation processes to ensure social care workers receive information on the impact of their efforts.
Social care workers should build connections with various agencies and individuals who can help assist clients because it is through them that agencies volunteer to offer aid. They are required to have good listening and observing skills to point out the needs of the community. Social workers should know the available resources in the community to meet particular needs that are not accessible. However, the government and various agencies should ensure that the social workers receive training and have access to professional advice and support on new arising issues. Social care workers should be treated with at most respect and rewarded for using discretion while serving clients. Through teamwork, social care workers can be successful, especially when citizens need services from different agencies at once.
Benefits of inter-agency collaboration include improved outcomes of the conditions of clients; staff is filled with enthusiasm and iscommitted with high expectations of themselves and others, improved understanding and awareness of issues and agencies, and breaking down professional boundaries and narrow-minded attitudes (Hebert & Swenson, 2014, p.371). There is increased staff morale since the social workers are aware that dispute resolution can be made collaboratively. Social workers get a better grasp of multi-agency activities. Moreover, the improved coordination of services leads to better relationships and valid referrals.
Barriers to Collaborative Practice
Collaborative practice has been of great help to society but some challenges have affected the social work sector. One of the obstacles is the lack of sharing information across agencies makes it hard because they are expected to share information and resources for there to be collaboration. People bring in different working styles and personal characteristics in social work which makes inter-personal relationships hard andinter-professional jealousy may occur bringing forth competition between professions instead of unity. Inter-agency mistrust is also one of the barriers of collaborative practice which leads to uncooperative behaviour, for instance, the unwillingness to share equipment and facilities. Due to the combination of different professions, there happens to be difficulty in oneunderstanding a different language and protocol and difficulty in adapting to new and varying working conditions. Building inter-agency collaboration takes time and effort because funds have to be secured, inter-agency agreements, decision-making bodies, and conflict resolution systems have to be set-up. Agencies have a hard time when it comes to time management when planning meetings between practitioners and managers. During job recruitment explaining the roles and responsibilities of practitioners in social work brings out ambiguity which results in non-successful management practices for establishing inter-agency teams. In addition to these, other challenges includelack of understanding, logicality and consistency in aims, joined-up thinking within various professions and agencies, and the makingof unprofitable inter-agency agreement and unsystematic approach of the provision of services.
The Legal Collaboration Model
Social care work may collaborate with a variety of fields when it comes to the practice and needs of the clients. Therefore, there are various types of collaborative practice models, which include legal collaboration, public-health collaboration, faith-based collaboration, and education collaboration (Hesse & Care, 2015, p.43). We shall focus onthe legal partnership, which provides for both the inter-professional and inter-organizational collaboration.This model unites professionals in the legal fraternity, public health and the medical sector to collaborate and deal with community and national issues, for instance, domestic violence. The medical industry provides health services, whereas legal practitionersoffer legal services to domestic violence victims. The legal collaboration model was developed in 1993 by Boston Medical Centre. The legal collaboration model involves includes both the inter-professional collaboration and inter-organizational collaboration.Inter-professional collaboration in this model aids in fighting the problems at all angles, which include legal assistance, medical attention, and psychological advice given to the domestic violence victims.
Social care work has been of great help to humankind and makes the world a better place to live in because social care workers carry out their duties with so much kindness and care to help thevulnerable individuals who experience marginalization, disadvantages, and special needs. Collaborative activity in social care work has united individuals and various organizations globally and has educated people on how to curb problems, their rights, the law, and has provided employment opportunities to many. Besides, successful collaboration creates more new opportunities for partnering with others to build a safe, reliable, healthy, and vibrant community and a sustainable future together.
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