Assessment in Social Work by Judith Milner, Patrick O’Byrne (auth.), Jo Campling (eds.)

By Judith Milner, Patrick O’Byrne (auth.), Jo Campling (eds.)

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This process could be usefully incorporated into social work assessments to guard against the tendency of social workers to be heavily influenced by the first item of data collection and premature hypothesis development. Subsequent government guidance provides basic checklists to aid this process, but these checklists need to be more systematically used, developed and refined. Obvious gaps in data are rarely evident in written assessments. Possible explanations will exist at this stage in both social research and social work assessments, but, in the former, they are more likely to be explicit and contain details of how they will be checked.

Memos are particularly useful for storing data that do not seem to 'fit', retaining them for later consideration, while flip chart displays are useful in supervision sessions to ensure that discussion does not centre on one factor to the exclusion of others. Working diagrams such as well-developed genograms and ecomaps are valuable items of data display at this stage of the assessment. Clear data display aids the next step of social research - the identification of emerging themes. These are noted in the first instance and then 'collapsed' into categories (Burnard, 1991).

The five stages of the assessment process are introduced and the issue of risk assessment is raised, as is the parallel with qualitative research. , 1986). The clarification of assessment processes in government guidance should have gone some way to improving this situation, but the evidence, albeit mainly on children's satisfaction with care arrangements, does not indicate any marked user satisfaction. For example: Although overall the 'referred' assessments followed procedures which were more systematic, open and participatory, they were no more likely to lead to social work plans which were comprehensive or successfully implemented.

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