In the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) in adult services, Newly Qualified Social Workers are expected to work on a portfolio which includes reflecting on their practice.
Critical reflection log part 2: reflection on learning in the first three months
Taking into account all your learning to date, reflect critically on how you have progressed in your development as a professional over the last three months and consider your development areas for the forthcoming three months.
According to Moon (2016), reflection lies somewhere around the notion of learning and thinking. We reflect in order to learn something, or we learn because we reflect.
Over the last three months, I have been given the opportunity to reflect on my practice and this has helped me develop and grow as a professional.
I have learned new skills and have gained a better insight into my role as a Social Worker. In this reflective log, I will reflect on how I have progressed in my development as a professional and highlight on development areas for the forthcoming three months using 3 case scenarios.
Over the last three months, I worked on several referrals with varying complexity.
The variety of cases I hold has helped me to better understand my role within the X team. I work directly with individuals and families to help them achieve the best outcomes.
My role includes undertaking assessments, planning care and support and making the best use of resources to enable people to have better lives. I have also settled well into the Team and have grown in confidence over the last three months.
At the onset of my ASYE, I aimed at working in line with the PCF as well as the KSS for adult’s framework.
The 2 main KSS I would focus on in this log are person-centered practice and safeguarding.
Within the last 3 months, I have worked directly with service users and have come to comprehend how important it is to work in a person-centered way. I use personalisation in the form of person-centred approaches in my assessments (Care Act 2014, s.9, 25, 26).
For instance, in CASE 1, I started with the service user as a person with strengths, preferences, and aspirations with a network of support and resources which includes their family and carers.
I support the person to live independently, for instance, by referring him for an Assistive Technology assessment, where equipment such as a lifeline can be provided to help them live as independently as possible.
In hindsight, I feel that I now hold the view that the service user is responsible for themselves and can make their own decisions about what they want. They should also be supported to make choices and decisions if needed (Beresford, 2014).
I also adapted the use of Carl Rogers’ approach towards effective practice which involves skills such as empathy, authenticity, and respect.
I realised that employing these skills enhanced my ability to listen effectively and improve outcomes for service users. For instance, I paraphrased and used appropriate body language to show that I was listening effectively.
Whiles using the person-centred approach, I identified some challenges. For example, where I have identified certain services to help promote service user’s rights, independence, choice, and inclusion, it has not always been possible to meet those needs.
This has been due to lack of funding. Conversely, SCIE (2005) identifies the need for local authorities to be person-centred rather than service-centered.
I have addressed situations like this by looking at the person’s informal systems that include family, friends, and neighbours’ who can provide advice, emotional support and even sometimes help with personal care.
According to Pincus and Minahan (1973), these informal systems contribute to a person’s sense of worth and personal functioning.
As a result, my practice has been influenced by this approach and it is reflected in the care and support plans I develop for service users. I was able to elicit the service user’s voice by giving her the choice to receive her Personal Budget by Direct Payment.
PCF: Professionalism: 1. 2, 4.1a, 4.1d; Values and Ethics: 1, 3.1c,3.1e, 3.1f; Diversity: 2.1b, 2.1e; Knowledge: 1.1a, 1.1e; Rights, Justice and Economic Wellbeing: 2.1e; Critical Reflection and Analysis: 1, 2, 3.1a, 3.1b; Intervention and Skills: 1, 2.1b, 2.1c, 2.1d, 2.1k, 2.1j, 2.1i, 2.1h, 2.1g, 2.1f, 2.1e; Contexts and Organisation: 1, 2.1b, 2.1d,2.1f; Professional Leadership: 1, 2, 4.1a.
KSS Outcomes: 1a, 1b, 2.1a, 3.1a, 3.1c, 4.1a, 4.1b, 4.1c, 5.1b, 7.1d, 8.1a, 9.1a, 9.1b.
At the onset of my ASYE, I aimed to develop the skill in recognising risk indicators of different forms of abuse and their impact on the service user and their families/support networks.
I attended a training session on Domestic Abuse in adults. In addition, I also had the opportunity of working with a couple where there was domestic abuse present. With CASE 2, whilst working with the couple, I was able to apply elements of the six safeguarding principles.
- Empowerment: I supported and encouraged H to make his own decision regarding how to proceed with his relationship with W.
- Prevention: I reminded H of the need to take action before any further harm occurs.
- Proportionality: I used the least intrusive response appropriate to the risk of domestic violence by engaging with the care agency. As they visit the couple every day, I advised they monitor the relationship.
- Protection: I made H aware that we are there to support if needed.
- Partnership: I involved the care agency in monitoring the relationship between H and W as they are both vulnerable. The care agency would play a part in preventing, detecting and reporting any abuse to the LA.
- Accountability: I understood the need to be accountable and transparent in any safeguarding practice. For instance, I had a case discussion with my manager in order to discuss ways forward for the couple.
In the future, I would like to be given the opportunity of using the Adults Risk Management matrix in identifying risk and supporting service users.
Pieces of legislation that I use on a daily basis to underpin my practice are the Care Act 2014, Mental Health Act (1983) and the Mental Capacity Act (2005).
Mental Capacity Act (2005):
Over the last three months, a case involving the use of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) has presented the greatest challenge for me. CASE 3 involved a service user who wanted to take ownership of her finances currently being managed by an appointee.
The challenge was my ability to apply the 5 principles of the Mental Capacity Act effectively. I also struggled with finding the right questions to ask the service user in order to address the specific issue relevant to the assessment (Can they manage their own finances?).
Through supervision and an MCA workshop, I was able to apply the two-stage functional test and the 5 principles of the MCA effectively.
The outcome was that the service user lacked capacity, however, work involving the Best Interests meeting was another challenge.
This is because I have not had the opportunity of shadowing an experienced social worker in this area and felt ‘fearful’ with regards to the potential outcome of the meeting.
Nevertheless, I felt that this was an opportunity for me to demonstrate my ability to have a key leadership role in modelling to other professionals the proper application of the MCA.
Key to this is the understanding that the MCA exists to empower those who lack capacity as much as it exists to protect them.
For that reason, I referred the service user to VoiceAbility group who were able to provide the service user with an IMCA (Independent Mental Capacity Advocate) to support her in the Best Interests meeting process.
With reference to my learning going forward, I will need to focus on:
- Undertaking effective assessments which are strength based and person-centred assessments in line with the Care Act 2014. I will also focus on being able to
- Write support plans, which are outcome based.
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Linking my work over the last 3 months to the PCF & KSS:
I feel that my confidence in undertaking assessments is increasing. I can work more independently now although I still get direction from my line manager.
I am able to use X system to help me prioritise and negotiate tasks in order to effectively manage workload and meet practice standards.
I present myself in a professional manner and show respect to service users. In demonstrating workload management skills, I find that I am able to stay on top of my caseloads.
For instance, I have an excel spreadsheet that helps me keep a tab on what tasks I have completed and what I need to do next.
KSS: 4.1b, 5.1a, 7.1d
Values and Ethics:
I have applied the principles under the Care Act 2014 and the MCA 2005 effectively. When working with service users, I have respected and worked with them collaboratively.
For instance, in Case 1, I elicited the needs of the service user by asking them a series of questions such as what changes would most improve your wellbeing or the quality of your life? I respected their needs, views and followed up on any referrals I made.
KSS 1.1a, 1.1c, 9.1a
I have attended training sessions on X system. These training sessions have helped me manage my caseloads effectively. Training on Domestic Violence and Communication models has equipped me with information on how to identify potential risks and communicate effectively with service users using appropriate tools.
KSS: 2.1a, 2.1b, 4.1a, 7.1a
Critical reflection and Analysis:
Through supervision and 1-2-1, I am able to critically reflect and think analytically about my cases. For instance, in CASE 1, I was able to understand the need to use a person’s system to provide effective support.
KSS: 5.1b, 5.1c, 7.1b, 7.1c, 9.1b
Intervention and Skills:
In Case 1 and 2, I ensured that the service user’s voice was heard. I used information from GP’s, care agencies, and family members to inform my assessments.
I also used different social work methods and models and different communication models, such as systems theory and motivational interviewing.
KSS: 1.1b, 2.1c, 8.1a
In cases1, 2 and 3, I realised how easy it is to oppress or discriminate in our work with people who might not have a voice.
Reflection and supervision helped me to recognise in Case 1 how I was able to elicit the service user’s voice by giving her the choice to receive her Personal Budget by Direct Payment.
KSS: 2.1a, 2.1b, 3.1a, 4.1b, 5.1a, 4.1a
Contexts and Organisation:
I worked with other professionals in case 3 and ensured I worked within my organisation’s remit, i.e. recognising that my role was as a social worker to carry out an MCA in line with the MCA 2005.
KSS: 8.1a, 9.1a, 5.1c, 4.1a, 3.1a, 3.1c
I was able to get more guidance on the 3 cases through supervision. I was able to lead the MCA meeting with the care home and the customer and find a way forward for the customer.
KSS: 9.1a, 8.1a, 5.1b, 5.1a, 3.1c
Rights, Justice and Economic Wellbeing:
I was able to empower the service user in case 3, by referring her to an IMCA service to represent her in a Best Interests meeting.
KSS: 2.1c, 8.1a, 9.1a, 5.1c, 4.1a, 3.1a