The Prato moment: thinking about leadership in social work education

Mary Baginsky, Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, introduces an invited post by Professor Charlotte Williams:

I was fortunate to have attended the second colloquium held at Monash University’s Prato centre. This is the second year that the group has come together to explore social work education. Prior to a more formal summary of proceeding, Professor Charlotte Williams, Professor and Deputy Dean of RMIT’s Social Work in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, reflects on the context and culture within which the discussions took place. In so doing she made me realise how much I miss the intensity of the discussions, the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and the time to talk and disagree.—Mary Baginsky

Professor Charlotte Williams writes:

image

Professor Charlotte Williams

There’s a special magic about Prato that is so conducive to commune. The ambition of the Prato Group, a collaboration of Social Work educators, reflects many of the attributes of this ancient and vital textile producing city in which it was inaugurated. The Prato textile enterprise with its yarns, designs, collective and innovative technologies has approached its futures over an 800-year history with enormous creativity, energy and pragmatism in an effort to remain relevant, stable and future-oriented. Through epochs of profound social, economic, political and technological change the ability to anticipate, capture and engage judiciously with disruptive forces and to lead through change has meant a threatened industry thrived largely through the efforts of small and distributed artisans working with common purpose. Continue reading

Notes from the inaugural conference of the Italian Society of Social Work Research

Gaia CetranoGaia Cetrano is a Research Associate at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. (1,100 words)

In May this year I was proud to take part in the first conference organized by the new Italian Society of Social Work Research (SOCISS) in Turin, Italy.

The origins of SOCISS date back to 1983 when a group of teachers of social work founded the Italian Association of Teachers of Social Work (AIDOSS). AIDOSS assiduously worked over 30 years to develop common thinking on theories of social work, as well as on the organization of university curricula, and the role of training and research. Then what happened? The Association committee reunited in 2016 and approved a new constitution outlining its new objectives, which included strengthening the dialogue between theory and practice in social work and promoting social work research in Italy and internationally. I think it is very important that the status of the association has now changed to that of a scientific society as this will hopefully help professionals, researchers and academics to acquire a stronger voice and also be in a better position to communicate and negotiate with other disciplines. Continue reading

The Prato Moment

imageProfessor Charlotte Williams OBE reports from Prato, Italy, on an international colloquium organised by the Deans of Social Work Education in Australia on 12-13 September 2016, at which Jill Manthorpe and Mary Baginsky participated. (570 words)

There are few opportunities to bring together a group of individuals in leading roles in social work education cross-nationally; particularly so in providing them with the thinking space to reflect critically and strategically over a two day ‘lock in’. This gathering could never be representative; it could never be comprehensive in the scope of issues, perspectives or topics it engaged with, nor could it be conclusive. Those ambitions are best left to the International Association of Schools of Social Work. But it did bring together a group of ‘thought leaders’, people who happened to hold significant positions across social work education East to West, in a catalytic moment. There was, we all hoped, an opportunity with some potential to reimagine social work education, present and future. Continue reading

Social work research with adults in England: The state we’re in

Manthorpe and Moriarty 2016 Social work research-01The adult social work sector in England needs to urgently identify its key research priorities, in an inclusive and rigorous way, if it is to generate the ideas and evidence needed to ensure that people receive the best possible support, according to researchers at the Policy Institute, King’s College London.

In a discussion paper on the state of social work research with adults in England, the researchers stress that the profession needs to be underpinned by research if it is to survive and to flourish. Among their recommendations are the establishment of a network that provides learning and mentor support for early career researchers, practitioner researchers, and managers interested in adult social work research, something that currently exists for researchers working on subjects such as ageing or in health services research. Continue reading

Social Work and Disability

Peter Simcock and Dr. Rhoda Castle introduce their new book, Social Work and Disability, now out from Polity Books. (1,040 words)

0745670199Literature focusing on social work with disabled people, particularly those with physical and sensory impairments, is relatively limited, and so an email from the publisher Polity Press enquiring if such a text would be welcome was met with great enthusiasm. We didn’t realise then, that we would be the authors of that text, especially when faced with other demands on our time, not least PhD study and our ‘day jobs’. However, a number of things motivated us to write this book. First of all, we have both observed some inspiring social work practice with disabled people, and this is an area of work we would like to promote among the practitioners of the future. Although people should not be defined purely in terms of their impairments, there can be variation between the restrictions that people with different atypical physical attributes will face, and variation again between their experience and that of people with learning disabilities. As literature focusing on social work with people with physical and sensory impairments is particularly sparse, this was a gap we sought to address. However, despite this primary focus on disability associated with physical and sensory impairment, we have attempted to take a holistic approach, which recognises that people with learning disabilities may also have physical impairments. Continue reading

Four studies in mental health social care

Dr Joan RapaportOn Thursday 8 October the Social Care Workforce Research Unit held its second annual Mental Health Social Care conference, in conjunction with Making Research Count. Joan Rapaport, Visiting Research Fellow at the Unit, was there. (2,275 words)

In her opening comments, Jo Moriarty, Deputy Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, highlighted that the seminar was taking place as part of Mental Health Awareness week and that 10 October is World Mental Health Day. She observed that as well as mental health social workers, delegates from a wide range of organizations, in particular housing, were represented in the audience. This confirmed that adult mental health was not specific to one area of practice. Continue reading

Common causes: the origins of the Child Poverty Action Group and its relations with social work

Caroline NorrieCaroline Norrie is Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit in the Policy Institute at King’s. (1,049 words)

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is 50 this year. As part of the celebrations, last month the Social Care Workforce Research Unit jointly hosted a seminar with the Social Work History Network to highlight the history of CPAG and its links with the social work profession.

CPAG is the leading national pressure group working to end poverty among children, young people and families. It campaigns to influence policy; produces information about access to benefits; and provides training for professionals across the UK about welfare rights (including tax credits, and universal credit). Continue reading

Beyond measurable outputs: What matters in social work practice with older people?

Valerie D'AstousVal D’Astous is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Gerontology, King’s College London. (969 words)

As I walked past a small group of men for the second time, in search of the location, a cheery, ‘Can we help you luv?’ was offered. Paper in hand with the address, I knew I was close, but gladly accepted their offer. Two gentlemen ended up walking me around the corner to the place I was seeking, the Burrell Street Sexual Health Clinic. ‘Hope all goes well for you,’ one gentleman wished me, as I thanked them and said goodbye. I laughed as I entered the building, the site for the Making Research Count Conference: Rethinking Social Work Practice with Older People: Threats and Opportunities. I knew I was in for a great day! Continue reading

Social work and the ill body

Liz Price Liz WalkerLiz Price (left) and Liz Walker both work at the University of Hull. (401 words)

Social work is remarkably silent when it comes to the physical body. By definition, the profession is similarly unnoticed within the experience, and practice, of illness. This book addresses these silences through an exploration of chronic (autoimmune) illnesses engaging in wider debates around vulnerability, resistance and the lived experience of ongoing ill-health.

We demonstrate the role that social work has to play in actively engaging the (ill) physical body, rather than working around and through it. We focus on autoimmune conditions such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma. Conditions like these allow for an exploration of the everyday lived experience of illnesses which can exacerbate social and economic vulnerability and may precipitate personal and social crises, requiring a variety of interventions and support. Continue reading

Assessing practice: the OSCE adapted for social work

photo of Imogen Taylor

Professor Imogen Taylor, University of Sussex, reports on the first seminar in a new series hosted by the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at which she was discussant. (332 words)

Professor Marion Bogo from the University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work gave the first of the new Social Work Seminar Series at King’s College London on Tuesday 5 May on the topic of the use of the OSCE, an Objective Structured Clinical Exam, in social work.

The invited audience for this virtual seminar [these are Prof Bogo’s presentation slides] came from social work policy, education, research and practice, including key members of stakeholder groups, to hear about the use of the OSCE in North America and debate its application to social work in England.  We learned that the OSCE was initially developed in medical education in the 1970s in Scotland and has been adopted by other health related professions. In North America, it is now being piloted and researched in social work. The essence of the social work OSCE is two-fold: first, practice competence is directly observed and assessed in 15-minute simulated interviews with standardised clients/users played by actors trained to enact the role of a client scenario; second, immediately post-interview, ‘meta-competences’ are assessed  in a rating of the students’ critical reflection on their practice, how they linked theory to practice and what they planned to take forward from the experience. Continue reading