Dr Mary Baginsky,Senior Research Fellow at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, reflects on our seminar led, online, by Professor Cheryl Regehr on 28 September 2021. (763 words)
Professor Cheryl Regehr is Provost and Vice-President for the University of Toronto and former Dean of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. She is also a Visiting Professor at our Unit this term. We were delighted that she agreed to lead a seminar that focused on her recent work. In this she explained how the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada has supported a number of her recent research projects that have examined stress, trauma and decision-making in social work (see examples below). The aim is to develop a new model for improving decision-making in situations of high-risk to reach a better understanding of the factors that drive decision-making in these situations. Professor Regehr and her team piloted a new approach for improving professional decision-making. The researchers examined biological, emotional, cognitive and contextual influences and this involved measuring social workers’ heart rates and recording their reflections on the decisions they had taken at specific times. The participants were able to link their emotional responses to the points at which they had been under physical stress. By raising their awareness to the relationship between their physiological responses and their automatic responses to the decisions they made the intention was to help them move towards more deliberate decision-making. Continue reading
Jo Moriarty, Senior Research Fellow at the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London introduces the new hospital social work report, which she wrote with Dr Nicole Steils and Prof Jill Manthorpe. World Social Work Day is on 19 March 2019 #WSWD2019 is the official hashtag. (602 words)
The theme for next week’s World Social Work Day is ‘promoting the importance of human relationships.’ In preparation for this we are launching our report into hospital social work, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Programme at the request of the Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo. Lyn has also kindly written the report’s foreword.
The origins of hospital social work lie in the decision made by the Royal Free Hospital in 1895 to appoint Mary Stewart as the first ‘lady almoner’. Her role was to interview people to decide who would be eligible for the free medical treatment that the hospital provided. Other hospitals soon followed this example and by 1948, the Institute of Almoners had over 1000 active members. Written in the style of the time, Flora Beck’s textbook for almoners noted that their two key tasks were:
… to determine whether social problems are likely to have a bearing on the patient’s illness. The second is to make the patient feel that here is a person with whom he could, if necessary, discuss his personal difficulties; someone to whom he need not mind admitting any trivial misunderstanding which had been bothering him, and to whom he could reveal serious and confidential problems without embarrassment.[2, cited in 3] Continue reading
Nicola Anderson is a child protection social worker who is also conducting a study of what affects child protection social workers working directly with parents. If you would like to take part or learn more about the research please contact Nicola: firstname.lastname@example.org (441 words)
Engaging parents in direct work is an important part of working in child protection. Sometimes it can be a very difficult task as social workers are entering people’s private family life and interventions can feel invasive. Parents are justifiably reluctant to allow this. Parents can express their feelings to the social worker involved and this can sometimes become aggressive. Social workers meet aggression so often that reducing aggression has now become part of social work (Taylor 2011). Schools of thought are that social workers contribute to parents’ negative feelings as a result of their communication or practice styles. There are movements towards changing the way social workers communicate and work with families with the emphasis on respect, listening and ensuring parents understanding of and involvement in plans and processes, for example motivational interviewing and signs of safety. Continue reading
Jo Moriarty is Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. The report on the social work bursary, published today, is available free to download. (604 words)
There has been a large rise in the volume of social work research undertaken in the UK over the past 20 years but one topic remains stubbornly under researched: student funding in social work education. This is all the more surprising when we remember the attention given to tuition fees in the last three general elections.
In June 2017, the Department of Health and Social Care Policy Research Programme commissioned the Social Care Workforce Research Unit to undertake a short review of the social work bursary.
We had already done a similar piece of work so we had not expected to uncover a large research evidence base. However, it still seems surprising that there is so little research on social work students finances given that many social work students are drawn to social work after being in care or experiencing discrimination or poverty. Continue reading
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:
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
Gaia 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
Professor 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
The 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
Peter Simcock and Dr. Rhoda Castle introduce their new book, Social Work and Disability, now out from Polity Books. (1,040 words)
Literature 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
On 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