• Social Care Workers’ Experiences of Assessing Parents with Learning Disabilities: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Study Based in the Northwest of England.

      Lovell, Andrew; Constance, Lyndsey J. (University of Chester, 2020-06-26)
      Aims: Qualitative research has identified a number of issues when working with parents with learning disabilities. Pre-conceived ideas, professional discrimination and a high percentage of children living away from the family home have featured heavily in the literature. However, less is known about the assessment process, and how practitioners adapt their skills to assess this parental group. The current study therefore aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of the assessment process, utilising a qualitative approach. The study focused upon the experiences of social care assessors from children’s and adult services, and sought to explore the following: the approach social care workers adopt when assessing parents with learning disabilities; if appropriate knowledge is embedded into practice to assess competently; experiences of the application of the PAMS 4.0; multi-disciplinary approach to assessment, and how this exhibits in practice. Method: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with fourteen frontline social care practitioners from children’s and adult services who had direct experience of assessing parents with learning disabilities. The transcripts of the interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: The analysis produced four master themes. These were; inadequate knowledge to understand complexities; hierarchy; reasonable adjustments; assessing parental ability. An analysis of these master themes and the related super-ordinate themes is presented. Discussion: The results are considered in light of the experiences of the participants, and how this impacts on the assessment of parents with learning disabilities. The study finds that whilst there is evidence the participants hold pre-conceived ideas, a lack of relevant skills and knowledge as well as an unstructured implementation of the Parenting Assessment Manual 4.0, are both contributing factors. Furthermore, problematic multi-agency working and managerial influences impact on the overall outcomes for parents with learning disabilities and their families.