Choose 3 of your direct observations carried out in your PLO. Using these as the context, produce a critical reflection on what you have learned about your own practice. The purpose of this assignment is to critically reflect on how effective my practice is by analysing my own direct work with service users and colleagues whilst on placement at a children’s home. It is vital for me to be able to reflect on my own practice as I can adapt how I think, feel and behave in order to better meet the needs of service users.
This statement is agreed by Horner (2004) who suggests that ‘reflection is a prerequisite to being an effective social worker, as it requires an approach that questions our thoughts, experiences and actions’. Throughout all three observations I have shown an improvement in my ability to prepare for the observations and therefore helped improve the effectiveness of this direct work. An example of my preparation would be putting a lot of thought and planning into the meeting with the young person which will.
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Preparation has included some of the finer details such as what questions I am going to ask, factors that will affect that young person individually and adopting strategies tailored to any given situation that will allow me to react in a professional and effective way under challenging or unforeseen circumstances. Quote. I have also prepared for direct observations by using theory to underpin the intervention I am about to do. In some early observations I have found this difficult as I was trying to apply certain theories to young people without any real evidence that their behaviours were attributed to a certain theory such as attachment.
I have acknowledged through feedback that it is dangerous to generalise and assume that every young person behaves or feels a certain way due to a certain theory. Furthermore when trying to understand young people you need to justify why you have come to certain conclusions about them and the best way to work with them, whilst treating them as individuals. There have been occasions when I have used theories to positive effect with a young person.
For the purposes of this assignment I will name (J) I used a strengths perspective to allow him to focus on the positives he has achieved such as attendance at work and good behaviour. I did this because I thought that if the young person was hearing from myself that I appreciated and valued certain things that he had achieved, this may give him a more positive outlook upon himself. This approach is backed by Saleeby (2006) who states that ‘A strength perspective demands a different way of seeing clients, their environments and their current situation.
Rather than focusing exclusively or dominantly on problems, your eye turns towards possibility.. .’ I have discovered that it is important when preparing for direct work to gain knowledge of a young person through recordings of their past, however it could be argued that profiles can ‘demonize’ young people and I have reflected on this by trying to dispel any prejudices which may have negative influences on my feelings towards that young person and the way in which I work with them.
I have demonstrated this by focussing on the positives in young people and also by keeping in mind that there are reasons such as neglect and harm that may have contributed to the way they have or do behave. I have evidenced in my preparation and reflections on the importance of direct work being of benefit to the young person (D) and an attempt to make positive changes to their care. I advocated for this young person and have also demonstrated a commitment to finish work by making sure that his views were heard by the service manager. This also fulfils element of the N. O. S 10. Advocate for and with service users and communities. (www. ccwales. org. uk. I prepared for a consultation with the young person by looking at the Children Act 1989 which requires social services to ‘ascertain the wishes and feelings’ of young people. I have shown the importance of anti-oppressive practice by working in partnership with him and empowering him to voice his opinions and hopefully make a positive change. In order for me to work in an anti-oppressive way firstly I needed to be aware of the institutional oppression and power inequalities which can affect young people and reinforces the powerlessness of that group.
In order for me to work in an anti-oppressive I had to try and not just accept things just because they were organisational policy if I thought they were unfair to the young people. I was aware that certain pratices may have been institutionally oppressive and I found it difficult to challenge without it coming across as critical. However I demonstrated a way of challenging the system without it coming across as too critical in a meeting where I did a meeting on enhancing the rewards and sanctions system.
This highlighted the weaknesses in the system but merely came across as suggestions that could improve the way we work with the young people. In hindsight I could have used more evidence based practice to justify my claims and this would have been more effective as it would have shown the team how similar methods have worked in the past. I also have reflected that although there are ways to change things for the better without alienating management or colleagues I need to be aware that the young people should at the heart of the practice so challenging a system maybe essential regardless of how uncomfortable it is for myself.
Needless to say regardless of whether somebody is trying to change things for the better systems that have been in place for many years may not appreciate it when people do not agree with certain practice. In order to challenge in I needed to be very conscious of the reason why I was working with the young people which was to care and support them and be careful not let my university requirements affect my practice as this would be abusing my position with the young people.
It was also important that the young people wanted to be apart of my observations and that this direct work was always of benefit to them. Darymple and Burke (1995) agree by stating that ‘A clear understanding of power and of oppression must inform the values of practice’ Whilst reflecting on legislation and policy for Looked after Children, it brought to my attention whether consultation with young people brings about positive change or does it just help meet mandatory policies.
One perspective is reflected by (Kirby 2004) who states that there is a ‘tokenistic consultation’ where ‘young people are often asked about their views but too frequently their views do not influence decisions’. As well as recognising my own feelings (Nervous) a observed situation, I learnt that direct work with young people doesn’t always go the way one may hope; Patience and the skill to bring someone back to the focus of the session is key. I have shown in an observation with (J) that i have the skills to adapt my communication in the face of resistance from a young person ‘Jon changed his own method.
This seemed to have a positive reaction for (J). This shows that I have the ability to critically reflect and I felt confident to solve a problem quickly during practice as well as critically reflecting afterwards. This approach is backed by Dominelli and Payne (2002) ‘Moving from critical thinking towards critical action creates a practice that can help us develop the best social work’ I have also reflected on the best communicative approach during observations with young people by trying to make it as informal as possible.
An informal ‘chat’ delivered in the right way can glean more helpful information as a conversation is less pressured. However it is evident in feedback I have missed opportunities to enable the service user to further explore their feelings. This is evident in observation with (D) when i could have allowed the young person to talk more about his mother. I have reflected afterwards that I was too consumed on where the observation was heading rather than concentrating on and exploring what was being said in the here and now.
I feel my ability to develop good relationships with young people has contributed to the success of my direct work with them, my feedback states ‘You have an effective way of communicating with young people and they seem to be comfortable talking to you’. Morris(2000) agrees with the importance of building that relationship ‘Young people stress the importance of the relationship with their social worker and value professionals who find the time to build a relationship with them’ I have felt that supervision is a very effective tool for reflecting on what i am doing positively and areas for improvement in my practice.
Although i have demonstrated good skill levels when working and communicating with young people, it is evident after I had presented on sanctions and rewards that my written work needs to be better referenced and clearer in justifying a course of action. Evidence based practice would have substantiated my suggestions further. This statement is agreed by Newman (2005) who emphasises the importance of drawing on ‘sound up to date evidence of what appears to be effective, ineffective and more importantly, what appears to do harm’.
However it may not be practical to rely on this alone and I would also need to use my social care values and professional judgment to aid any decisions. Whilst on placement i have demonstrated an improvement in my organisational skills and have been able to meet most of the demands placed on me, However i have struggled to meet the academic demands of the course whilst on placement and must be aware that this needs to improve further as good organisation skills will be crucial in satisfying the competing demands of the social work role.
In conclusion the opportunity to critically reflect on my own practice has shown that I can work positively with service users and colleagues but also brought to light evidence of limitations in my practice. Furthermore it is vitally important to carry on reflecting and developing my own analysis in order to further my growth as a social worker.