Browsing Health and Social Care by Journal
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Barriers facing social workers undertaking direct work with children and young people with a learning disability who communicate using non-verbal methodsAbstract: This paper analyses data drawn from a small group of qualified social workers’ specialising in work with disabled children who communicate using non-verbal methods. While a number of studies have criticised social services for neglecting disabled children, this paper re-evaluates evidence from the standpoint of a small group of experienced practitioners. Three substantive themes are explored which include: problems faced by practitioner’s communicating with children and young people; barriers to direct work; and positive engagement or use of creative methods. Among other findings, the paper highlights the complexity of communication techniques when seeking to accommodate diverse service user and carer needs, as well as creative responses used by practitioners despite significant barriers that include limited available training, technology and financial resources. Despite policy initiatives and legal requirements emphasising the importance of direct work and participation with disabled children, the conclusion reiterates the narrow focus of current risk-averse social work around disability, as well a need for additional resources and training to improve relationships, communication and meaningful support for children and young people that meet basic legal requirements.
The fragmentation of social work and social care: some ramifications and a critiqueThis paper critically appraises the impact of the fragmentation of social care and social work. In particular it examines the impact of splintered services and roles upon employees, service users and carers. The article concentrates upon three inter-related areas as part of a more general critique: first, reliability of services; second, relations with stakeholders; and finally, the identity of employees. Despite differences across sectors and some largely collateral benefits it is proposed that fragmentation has promoted inconsistent and unreliable services, the development of superficial relations with users and carers and the loss of belonging and fractured identities of social care employees. Fragmentation regularly spoils professional identities and generates uncertainty amidst attempts to provide effective or reliable services. Indeed fragmented, disorganised or reductive provisions often generate new risks for the recipients of services.
Mind the Gaps: The rise and implications of cynicism within social workThis paper explores the notable rise of cynicism among state social workers in Britain. Theoretically, cynicism has been viewed as ‘deviant emotion’ and pathology or as offering a type of employee resistance that may protect or support a person’s identity. Drawing upon case study research with practising social workers, the article looks at three different case examples of employee cynicism. These include the cynic as organisational survivor, disenfranchised sceptic or altruist. It was found that, although cynicism within social work predominately emerges as an emotional response to structural change, other factors such as those embodied within professional discourses and government or academic rhetoric can also impact. Other factors such as risk-averse assumptions that distance the practitioner from the ‘service user’ or colleagues can also have influence. Although often viewed negatively, cynicism can greatly benefit an organisation or motivate a practitioner to challenge normative principles and promote the needs of service users and carers.
Welfare conditionality, ethics and social care for older people in the UK: From civic rights to abandonment?Welfare systems are becoming ever more conditional, with access to state support increasingly rationed via a legion of legally-defined and financially-driven restrictions and rules. Civic protection and economic rights for older citizens within Western policy systems are subsequently diminishing and continue to give way to neoliberal discursive practices which prioritise welfare activation, autonomy, participation, asset-based yet precarious self-care, the aversion of health-centred risks and much higher levels of eligibility for support. This article looks at welfare conditionality and its relationship to older people, ethics and governance within social care. By using three examples of welfare conditional reforms from the UK, it is highlighted that strains typically persist between the altruistic components of some ethical frameworks and the everyday experiences of many older people. The relative gatekeeping powers of welfare professionals and expectations placed on family members and carers have also increased, especially upon older people with higher needs and who may lack economic and cultural capital. This is despite rhetorical policy-led claims of increasing choice and control, and allowing support to be more asset-based and personalised.