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The Relationship between Social Workers and Service Users - Involuntary Service Users

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James Hood

on 2 December 2013

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Transcript of The Relationship between Social Workers and Service Users - Involuntary Service Users

The Relationship between Social Workers and Service Users
Involuntary Service Users
Building and maintaining relationships
Building & maintaining
HCPC (2012)– Code of
The Munro review of child protection (2011)
The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilizing theories if human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the point where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work’

(IFSW/ IASSW 2000, cited in Trevithick, 2012:3).
Social Work
Historical importance
Policy, frameworks and statutory requirements
FOCUS - Involuntary service users
Theories and approaches to relationships
Barriers to relationships
Concluding with a reflection on practice
‘Building and maintaining relationships underpin any intervention in social work or social care, whether psychosocial, behavioural, advocacy or group care. Partnership working with users of services or interprofessionally requires building and maintaining a relationship’(Lishman, 2009:75).
Policy and Legislation
“Relationship-based practice essentially recognises the moral claim of the service user – whether voluntary or involuntary – to be treated as an individual in his or her own right.” (Tureny 2012:150)
Relationship Based Practice
•Relationships have played a part from the beginning of social work practice in the 19th Century.
•1950’s and 1960’s clinical and case work, had a focus on relationships.
•1980’s and 1990’s a more political approach was favored which neglected the relationship approach.
• Recently there has been a move to see the relationship based model back into practice.
(Turney, 2012; Howe, 2009; Howe, 2008).
The History of
Relationship-based Practice
What affects positive relationship building with service users
Meeting deadlines and targets
Limited time spent with service users
due to:
Reports from Social Workers “ they (service users) find reports threatening and intimidating” Smith et al (2011)
Complicated, time consuming ICT software packages
The importance of long lasting trusting relationship
Change of Social Worker
How to Build a Positive Relationship With Involuntary Service Users
When service users feel blamed / judged
Lack of communication
“I didn’t like how everyone was round that table and it was like they were judging you”
Smith et al (2011)
Wosu & stewart 2010 - If parents feel blamed / judged, positive relationship unlikely to develop
“choosing not to inform service users about decisions could seriously undermine trust, making future engagement all the more challenging" Smith et al (2011) p 11
‘Social Workers are in positions of power, and that power can be used positively and constructively to help people gain greater control over their lives or it can be used inappropriately and destructively in the form of abuse, exploitation and/or the reinforcement of existing disadvantages and inequalities’
(Fook, 2002: Thompson, 2007: Thompson, 2003a cited by Thompson 2009:5)
The Use of Power
The Use of Power (continued..)
Empowerment: ‘the process of gaining greater control over one’s life and circumstance’
(Thompson, 2009:144)

Oppression:‘Inhuman or degrading treatment of individuals or groups; hardship and injustice brought about by the dominance of one group over another; the negative and demeaning exercise of power. Oppression often involves disregarding the rights of an individual or group and thus is a denial of citizenship’
(Thompson, 2001:34 cited by Beckett, Maynard 2009:148)
Care v’s Control
‘Social work is, of course, one of the ‘caring’ or ‘helping’ professions, and so caring and helping are very much to the fore. However, it would be naïve not to recognise that there are also significant elements of social control.’
(Thompson, 2009:3)

‘The capacity to care for others can sometimes be in conflict with our role as ‘agents of social control’
(Trevithick, 2012:281)
The Effect of Danger/Violence on the Social Worker/Service user relationship
•Social workers routinely experience threats and violence from involuntary service users, this is likely to increase from parents in particular if the custody of their child and their parental rights are being brought into question. (Stanley and Goddard, 2002).

•Studies show that if violence is a significant factor in the Social Worker/ Service User relationship then dangers are under reported. (Little child 2002)
-Being empathetic
-Using humour
-Peer groups
Consumerist Model
‘In consumerist discourses, service users are seen as customers who exercise choice in accessing services.’ (Gallagher et al, 2012, p.2)
Rights based model
‘Rights-based models, in which user engagement is seen a way of ensuring social justice by empowering people to make their voices heard.’ (Postle and Beresford, 2007, p.143)
The Involuntary Service Users Perspective
Service users are “never seen as intelligent, rational people who happened to disagree with you” (Munro 2008)
The Effect of Involuntary Service Users on Social Work Practice
‘’Relationship is considered the most fundamental tool in social work practice…it is acknowledged in social work literature and practice that it is the power of relationship that brings about change not programmesand services’’
(Department of Health Child Protection: Message from research, 1995)
Bibliography Continued
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Serious case reviews
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