In this example critical reflective log, I will focus on the social work PCF domain 1 – Professionalism.
Example of Critical Reflective Log | Professionalism
I have been working jointly on a case with my PE involving a man with learning disabilities. B’s father, who had been his primary carer, passed away suddenly a year ago. He required some support with daily living skills and was therefore moved to an assessment unit to determine what level of support may be necessary.
B has a good family support network but wants to be independent. He attends the W day centre and has occasionally displayed some challenging behaviour towards others but does not pose a risk to management.
At the assessment unit, they identified that B can use the washing machine with pictorial instructions as he cannot read. He can vacuum and dust with verbal prompts. He also enjoys gardening and mows the lawn. His family supports him with all his correspondence as he cannot read, and he lacks capacity as described by the MCA 2005.
They subsequently moved B to a supported unit on X date. A six-week review was scheduled to find out how he was coping with his new home.
I reviewed B’s case notes and familiarised myself with his history. I also discussed issues that I would need to address with my PE, such as his current care and support hours and whether he still has his travel training. I planned with the manager at L supported living to find out their availability.
They confirmed that contact will be made with B’s sisters to see if they wish to attend. I contacted the manager at B’s day care centre and she was happy to take part in the review meeting to discuss B’s behaviour over the past few months at the centre.
I felt that B was involved in the meeting, the entire process was person-centred and it aimed at empowering him. I felt that he was enthusiastic and expressed his views and wishes, such as changing an item on his menu, which were taken into consideration.
Initially, I felt overwhelmed with the level of information provided in the case notes and the number of people I had to contact to arrange the review meeting. I was unsure how I would organise B’s background information into a chronology that I would be able to understand and use effectively.
Although I was familiar with arranging meetings in the past, I underestimated the volume of work required for the Local Authority to arrange assessments and reviews, as it involves many people.
The quantity of information, as well as the number of people I had to contact, heightened my anxiety, as I had not envisaged organising a review meeting in such detail. However, I am aware of the expectations placed on social workers to complete concise and comprehensive assessment and reviews under the Care Act 2014. I felt that this would enlighten me on how to effectively plan a review meeting.
I had planned on doing this review with my PE, however; she could not make it due to personal reasons. However, she encouraged me to attend the meeting. Before my visit, I felt very apprehensive. I accept that this was because of my uncertainty around what to expect and the fact that it was my first independent review.
I wanted to ask relevant questions to show my competence. For this reason, I familiarised myself with his case notes and other relevant information. I thought about the questions that they could ask me, and this highlighted the need to have an in-depth understanding of the case.
If I was not equipped with the relevant information appropriate for asking the relevant questions, it could have potentially resulted in me coming across as unprofessional. I also prepared myself for potential questions from B, his family, and management of L supported living.
On the day of the meeting, I arrived 30 mins late although I left the office 30 mins before the scheduled time. This is because I did not expect road diversions and traffic, which contributed to me turning up late. However, I called the manager at L supported living to advise them of this.
When the meeting started, I tried to maintain a calm exterior, even though I was exceptionally nervous. I tried to keep my posture open as I felt this would show my confidence, and I would present as professional a key domain within the Professionals Capabilities Framework (Work, 01).
I remained confident and was able to maintain a professional stance, highlighting further my ability to behave as a professional social worker. While I was able to stay professional throughout, my nerves overtook my composure at times, and I did not always remember the questions that I had initially planned to ask.
On reflection, when preparing for reviews or assessments in the future, I will make myself notes with all the key questions that I would like to ask.
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I was asked many questions by B and the management of L supported living, which I felt was able to answer with a little more confidence. Some questions, including those around B’s care needs, I found particularly official and advised that I would check with my PE and let them know the answers.
I note that it would have been inappropriate to give a vague or incorrect answer. This has indicated that while I consider my knowledge of the Care Act 2014 acceptable, there are still areas which I need to continue to familiarise myself with ensuring that this does not happen again. Additionally, this meeting allowed me to show my ability to remain calm under pressure while responding to questions appropriately.
Throughout the meeting, I tried to emulate a professional and non- judgemental demeanour, which I felt was essential. I achieved this by communicating all information accurately, trying to avoid adding my own opinions. I did not make any promises and tried to remain honest and accurate, as this shows credibility. I acknowledge that being honest and transparent when working with individuals is crucial in social work.
Feedback received from the managers of L after the meeting and in supervision showed my ability to show a sound knowledge of B’s case, which enabled me to answer the questions confidently. Before receiving this feedback, I doubted my ability in completing such a task as I did not feel that I could ask and answer questions satisfactorily. I thought my nerves would overtake my ability to perform.
This feedback has given me confidence in my ability to carry assessments, while still recognising areas for improvement. I am looking forward to carrying out more reviews and assessments independently now.
Theories and Methods
Upon my reflection on the feelings and views that ensued from the above-described experience, I will focus on professionalism and its importance in social work practice.
According to Cournoyer (2011), professionalism includes several characteristics, integrity, professional knowledge, self-control, critical thinking, promoting well-being ethical decision making and advancing human rights and social justice.
Social workers promote economic justice; enhance social well-being and anti-discriminative and anti-oppressive practices. In pursuit of these aspirations, a social worker would regularly show knowledge, empathy, respect and authenticity and professionalism (Kadushin & Kadushin, 2014).
These characteristics are demonstrated through the entire helping–process, from preparing for and beginning with clients through the conclusion of work (Trevithick, 2012). They are also apparent in our exchanges with other members of the client system, referral sources, various stakeholders and members of the general public through communication, appearance, and time – keeping (Kadushin & Kadushin, 2014).
I felt that I showed a good level of professionalism by having an excellent knowledge of B’s case and communicating effectively. However, as I turned up late for the meeting, this made me feel a little unprofessional. In the future, I will plan my journey ahead of time so it takes into consideration, factors such as traffic and road diversions.
The HCPC code of ethics also recognises the need for professionals to practice within their scope of practice (HCPC 2.0). Thus, knowledge of relevant legislation such as the Care Act 2014 is essential.
Section 9 of the CA14 places a statutory duty on Local Authorities to carry out a needs assessment with adults who appear to have eligible need for support and care and who live in their vicinity. However, I realised that where the local authority identifies that an adult lacks mental capacity, provisions within the Mental Capacity Act 2005 will guide them to determine how to act in the person’s best interest if they do lack capacity and must apply the least restrictive option.
Although, I familiarised myself with B’s case; I recognised that B, his sisters and the management of L supported living will know more about the needs and aspirations of B. I used the exchange model which recognises that users are experts of their own needs, and should be empowered by being involved in the assessment process.
Although I tried to involve B’s support network, his sisters could not make it due to short notice. However, the management of L fully participated, resulting in a holistic review. In the future, I will organise assessments and give advance notice to all stakeholders to allow them sufficient time to attend. This will result in an enhanced assessment.
Based on Carl Rogers’ person-centred approaches, Wilson et al. (2011, p.301) suggested that empathetic, respectful and authentic responses enhance a social workers capacity to listen effectively. Therefore, I used open question techniques to find out about B’s needs, aspirations and circumstances while remaining empathetic and responsive. I occasionally nodded and maintained eye contact to show that I was in tune when his comments.
According to Coulshed and Orme (2012), person centred planning focuses on the individual as a unique person in his/her situation. At the same time, it facilitates communication and participation throughout the entire process.
I observed that B spoke about doing up his new room and using his newly gained skills in cookery at the activity centre. His room had been personalised to mirror his interest in the colours of the football club that he supports. I also noticed that his sisters had helped create a menu that had been personalised to meet his nutritional needs.
As denoted in the Professional Capabilities Framework, social workers have a duty to promote the participation of vulnerable individuals ensuring that they are part of any decision-making process where appropriate.
Transparency and fairness is essential when working with service users, ensuring all information is genuine and accurate; it was imperative that I could remain factual in my answers throughout the review process.
Finally, I used this reflection to look at things that I could have done differently, including a focus on anticipating possible things that may come in the way of organising a successful review meeting.
Although I feel I could have spent more time on rapport building with B, this did not affect our communication, and what was most apparent was my willingness to explore his views and opinion on how well he had settled in his new home.