Interprofessional Social Work: Effective collaborative approaches


Edited by: Anne Quinney, Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Jonathan Parker & Greta Bradley Bradley, Greta

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    About the Author

    Anne Quinney is a senior lecturer at Bournemouth University and is the editor of the peer-reviewed journal Practice: Social work in action. Prior to working in higher education Anne worked as a teacher, youth worker and social worker in Sudan, Scotland and England. Anne's research interests are in technology-enhanced learning, and she has undertaken research projects into staff and student experiences of interprofessional learning using a virtual community, and the use of arts and humanities materials and online assessment in transprofessional learning. Anne is also interested in how students develop research-mindedness. She is one of the authors of the multimedia learning resources produced for the Social Care Institute for Excellence on Interprofessional and interagency collaboration.

    Dr Trish Hafford-Letchfield is the Director of Programmes for Social Work at Middlesex University, London. Trish is a qualified nurse and social worker and has had a long career in social work including more than ten years of managing social work and social care services in a statutory organisation including supported housing. Trish has a wide range of experiences in interprofessional leadership and management development and has developed a range of initiatives in practice. Within higher education she has led and taught on interprofessional leadership programmes for a number of years and is widely published in this area. Trish's research interests lie in educational gerontology and social care, the use of the arts in learning and teaching, widening participation in education, sexuality and intimacy in social work and social care, leadership and organisational development. She is interested particularly in how social work draws on other social science disciplines to enhance their knowledge and practice.

    Series Editors’ Preface

    Jonathan Parker Greta Bradley, Bournemouth University, University of York
    Professor, Jonathan ParkerBournemouth University

    Collaboration and interprofessional, interdisciplinary or multi-professional working have been sported almost as a talisman which, once touched, will rid the world of social work, health care and other human services of the narrow, tribal and often damaging practices that are held responsible for social tragedies.

    National and global perturbations have continued to influence and mould social and health policy developments, which often determine the ways in which they are applied in social work practice. The UK faces numerous challenges over forthcoming years, many of which, perhaps, have been heightened following the 2007 fiscal crisis and its lasting ramifications. These include dealing with the impact of an increasingly ageing population, with its cognate health and social care needs, housing and support service needs, education and leisure services and so forth. Collaboration with other professionals and para-professionals is also set centre stage as we work with the financial implications that a changing demography, including lower fertility rates alongside population ageing, brings. This book adds to our knowledge and understanding of the complexities of social work practice in which collaboration with and respect for others is central.

    Migration has increased as a global phenomenon and we now live and work with the implications of international issues in our everyday and local lives. Often these issues influence how we construct our social services and determine what services we need to offer. It is likely that as a social worker you will work with a diverse range of people throughout your career, many of whom have experienced significant, even traumatic, events that require a professional and caring response grounded, of course, in the laws and social policies that have developed as a result. As well as working with individuals, however, you may be required to respond to the needs of a particular community disadvantaged by world events or excluded within local communities because of assumptions made about them, and you may be embroiled in some of the tensions that arise from implementing policy-based approaches that may conflict with professional values. What is clear within these contexts is that you may be working with a range of people who are often at the margins of society, socially excluded or in need of protection and safeguarding. You will not always be the person or service who can meet the needs of the diverse population you will meet. This text provides important knowledge and information to help you become aware of the roles others play in helping in human situations, and to respond appropriately and make referrals to other professions when faced with challenging situations.

    Reflection, revision and reform allow us to focus clearly on what knowledge is useful to engage with in learning to be a social worker. The focus on ‘statutory’ social work and, by dint of that, involuntary clients, brings to the fore the need for social workers to be well versed in the mechanisms and nuances of legislation that can be interpreted and applied to empower, protect and assist, but also to understand the social policy arena in which practice is forged. The books in this series respond to the agendas driven by changes brought about by professional body, government and disciplinary review. They aim to build on and offer introductory texts based on up-to-date knowledge and social policy development and to help communicate this in an accessible way, preparing the ground for future study as you develop your social work career. The books are written by people passionate about social work and social services and aim to instil that passion in others. The knowledge introduced in this book is important for all social workers in all fields of practice as they seek to reaffirm social work's commitment to those it serves.


    I would like to dedicate this book to all the students I have worked with. They have helped me to stay tuned to social work practice and continually reinforced my passion for being involved in social work education.

    Anne Quinney

    For my dad, Peter Hafford; you are always with me.

    Trish Hafford-Letchfield

  • Appendix 1 Professional Capabilities Framework

    Professional Capabilities Framework diagram reproduced with permission of The College of Social Work.

    Appendix 2 Subject Benchmark for Social Work

    Subject knowledge, understanding and skills

    Subject knowledge and understanding

    5.1 During their degree studies in social work, honours graduates should acquire, critically evaluate, apply and integrate knowledge and understanding in the following core areas of study.

    5.1.1 Social work services, service users and carers, which include:

    • the social processes (associated with, for example, poverty, migration, unemployment, poor health, disablement, lack of education and other sources of disadvantage) that lead to marginalisation, isolation and exclusion, and their impact on the demand for social work services;
    • explanations of the links between definitional processes contributing to social differences (for example, social class, gender, ethnic differences, age, sexuality and religious belief) to the problems of inequality and differential need faced by service users;
    • the nature of social work services in a diverse society (with particular reference to concepts such as prejudice, interpersonal, institutional and structural discrimination, empowerment and anti-discriminatory practices);
    • the nature and validity of different definitions of, and explanations for, the characteristics and circumstances of service users and the services required by them, drawing on knowledge from research, practice experience, and from service users and carers;
    • the focus on outcomes, such as promoting the well-being of young people and their families, and promoting dignity, choice and independence for adults receiving services;
    • the relationship between agency policies, legal requirements and professional boundaries in shaping the nature of services provided in interdisciplinary contexts and the issues associated with working across professional boundaries and within different disciplinary groups.

    5.1.2 The service delivery context, which include:

    • the location of contemporary social work within historical, comparative and global perspectives, including European and international contexts;
    • the changing demography and cultures of communities in which social workers will be practising;
    • the complex relationships between public, social and political philosophies, policies and priorities and the organisation and practice of social work, including the contested nature of these;
    • the issues and trends in modern public and social policy and their relationship to contemporary practice and service delivery in social work;
    • the significance of legislative and legal frameworks and service delivery standards (including the nature of legal authority, the application of legislation in practice, statutory accountability and tensions between statute, policy and practice);
    • the current range and appropriateness of statutory, voluntary and private agencies providing community-based, day-care, residential and other services and the organisational systems inherent within these;
    • the significance of interrelationships with other related services, including housing, health, income maintenance and criminal justice (where not an integral social service);
    • the contribution of different approaches to management, leadership and quality in public and independent human services;
    • the development of personalised services, individual budgets and direct payments
    • the implications of modern information and communications technology (ICT) for both the provision and receipt of services.

    5.1.3 Values and ethics, which include:

    • the nature, historical evolution and application of social work values;
    • the moral concepts of rights, responsibility, freedom, authority and power inherent in the practice of social workers as moral and statutory agents;
    • the complex relationships between justice, care and control in social welfare and the practical and ethical implications of these, including roles as statutory agents and in upholding the law in respect of discrimination;
    • aspects of philosophical ethics relevant to the understanding and resolution of value dilemmas and conflicts in both interpersonal and professional contexts;
    • the conceptual links between codes defining ethical practice, the regulation of professional conduct and the management of potential conflicts generated by the codes held by different professional groups.

    5.1.5 The nature of social work practice, which include:

    • the characteristics of practice in a range of community-based and organisational settings within statutory, voluntary and private sectors, and the factors influencing changes and developments in practice within these contexts;
    • the nature and characteristics of skills associated with effective practice, both direct and indirect, with a range of service-users and in a variety of settings;
    • the processes that facilitate and support service user choice and independence;
    • the factors and processes that facilitate effective interdisciplinary, interprofessional and interagency collaboration and partnership;
    • the place of theoretical perspectives and evidence from international research in assessment and decision-making processes in social work practice;
    • the integration of theoretical perspectives and evidence from international research into the design and implementation of effective social work intervention, with a wide range of service users, carers and others;
    • the processes of reflection and evaluation, including familiarity with the range of approaches for evaluating service and welfare outcomes, and their significance for the development of practice and the practitioner.

    Skills in working with others

    5.7 Honours graduates in social work should be able to work effectively with others, ie to:

    • involve users of social work services in ways that increase their resources, capacity and power to influence factors affecting their lives;
    • consult actively with others, including service users and carers, who hold relevant information or expertise;
    • act cooperatively with others, liaising and negotiating across differences such as organisational and professional boundaries and differences of identity or language;
    • develop effective helping relationships and partnerships with other individuals, groups and organisations that facilitate change;
    • act with others to increase social justice by identifying and responding to prejudice, institutional discrimination and structural inequality;
    • act within a framework of multiple accountability (for example, to agencies, the public, service users, carers and others;
    • challenge others when necessary, in ways that are most likely to produce positive outcomes.


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