8 thoughts on “Is Social Work necessary in Assessments?

  1. I read this with interest. Assessment is so much more than assessing for eligibility and services. I am bound to ‘fly the flag’ for social workers but I agree that I have worked with excellent and not so good, both qualified and unqualified workers. Assessments by those who are trained and perceptive uncover so much more than eligibility and need for services. As in the article, people don’t always know their rights and also self-exclude by simply not using the right language or not wishing to aknowledge their own limitations. Assessments force people to think about what they cannot do in an era when social work students are being told about the benefits of the strengths perspective.
    Assessment can alert you to the carer who is exhausted and becoming less able to cope without support. It enables you to break through the cheerful exterior that so many wear for the hour that they might be interacting with another. By sitting down with the person and building a trusting relationship quickly, giving the time and space for that person to breathe and think about what is happening, can bring up an array of issues that form filling will not. We can pick up on body language, verbal cues, see when the person is wanting us to open the door on a difficult conversation. We can think about future care planning for the person who has a life limiting illness, we might be the first person who has given permission for them to talk in this way. We can consider the family as whole, and think about how the person might want their life to be. Yes – this has been standard good social work practice way before the ‘personalisation’ agenda began stating the obvious.
    We DO need a stronger professional voice. We need to try to find words for a role that can be so delicate and subtle that it leaves others wondering what it’s all about. We are notoriously bad at selling ourselves. Humilty is a trait found in so many good social workers and for this reason we find it excruciating to talk about what we do well. People know they feel better when they have a social worker supporting them. I would be rich beyond words if I had a pound for every time someone told me they wished they just had a named social worker they could call when they needed them.
    Assessment is our first encounter and first opportunity to build a relationship that can be therapeutic, supportive and enabling. Sadly, assessment is often also the last time we might see that person face to face in the new era of time limited care management. Even so, good assessment skills can uncover the tip of an iceberg which, if left unexplored, can lead to crisis, carer burnout, safeguarding, unhappiness and an increased dependence on already stretched services.

  2. I’m a social work student half way through a Masters course absolutely passionate about the importance of assessments and applying the theory we are learning and to bring that into people’s lives who deserve far more than a form-filling routine. Relationship and building trust with service-users is everything and they rightly expect a high quality service. I am so disillusioned with the way the whole social work industry has caved in to the Personalisation myth that no one needs professionals anymore. I agree with above blog; this profession needs to fight for itself and we need managers in voluntary and public sector to employ professionals where needed. Social Work has particular relevance for advocacy, mental health, mental capacity and understanding human development and attachments, things I knew nothing about before training despite working as a social work assistant for four years. A NQSW salary is very affordable and amazing value for a newly trained keen employee with up to date skills but they are like hen’s teeth to get. It would be extremely hard to maintain enthusiasm and skills unless we can work in the position we are trained to do and if we can not get work then all this knowledge and experience is lost and the NHS bursary to fund us is also wasted.

  3. Form-filling is one thing but going on and on is another. You won’t have much impact if people’s eyes start to glaze over. The other day, I took a social worker totally out of his comfort zone by insisting he stopped using the vile construction “issues around” three times a sentence, thought what he actually meant and expressed it in English. He was unable to do so.

  4. Thanks Carol and Helen

    Michael, I can completely understand – there are good and bad social workers just like all people but it doesn’t mean none of us know how to communicate and what we do has no value 🙂

    • Quite so! There are shocking nurses too – I can think of a couple Z had to bar from Mental Nurse for behaving crassly and refusing to apologise or mend their ways. Indeed, I can think of one yur in Bristle who behaved in exactly the same way. 😉

      • Indeed. Given the increasingly-detailed guidance on social networking coming out of the NMC, I think if something like that happened in future I would have to ban them a lot quicker. Partly to appease the NMC, but also to save myself a lot of headache conducting a battle of wits with the unarmed.

      • Let alone an armed battle with the witless…I notice somebody got himself banned from E-Goat “for being a complete bell-end”. M

  5. Thanks for this post Ermintrude, I wouldn’t have read the report otherwise! I agree that this report has some rather ominous elements. It strikes me that it is actively advocating the kind of signposting away from assessment that the CSCI heavily criticised in their research on FACS. It also advocates ‘reducing the number of assessments that do not lead to a service’, which from a legal perspective is really problematic. LA’s have a duty to assess whenever it appears to them that a person *may* qualify for a service they *could* provide. This basically means an LA has a duty to assess anybody who (in the arcane and horrible language of the National Assistance Act 1948) is ‘blind, deaf or dumb, or who suffer from mental disorder of any description and other persons aged eighteen or over who are substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury, or congenital deformity or such other disabilities as may be prescribed by the Minister.’ The fact that in reality the person wouldn’t be eligible in terms of FACS or because they’ve got their own financial resources they could use is no reason not to assess. The duty to assess must be discharged regardless of whether or not a person would receive a service, just as long as they fall into the category described above. It’s troubling the Audit Commission are advocating an approach which may mean people’s needs are missed, and that is in such tension with community care law.

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