NATURE OF SERVICE PROVIDED, AGENCY CONTEXT WHERE THIS TAKES PLACE,NATURE OF SOCIAL WORK, ROLE OF A SOCIAL WORKER, CONCEPT OF A PROFESSIONAL.

The profession of social work not only introduce social changes in the society but also aids with problem-solving in relationships and enables people to increase their well-being in the family and society they live. By using human behavior theories and social systems, social work involves at points where people interact with their environments (International Association of Schools of Social Work, 2001). Human rights play an important role in the aspect of social work profession as well. The affinity between human rights conventions and more recent legislations strengthen the enforcement of human right laws. Social worker’s aim is to make individual obtain a change, a certain quality of life and/or protection from harm or harming others (ADSW, 2004).

“In a society where the gaps between the haves and have nots have widened and continue to widen, the social policy role of social work is going to be of major significance” (Bamford, 1990, p.168). Social work is very unique in many ways, one of which is the way we assist our clients. A distinctive fact about the social work role is the competence to follow a person-centered approach putting the person in the context of his life situation as a whole. When other professions involve more with elements of a person’s life, such as health, education, income, as social workers we are committed to working with the whole person and addressing the interrelatedness of different issues (Bisman, 2004).

 I completed my PLO1 at PAMIS (promoting a more inclusive society), the only organization in Scotland that works exclusively with individuals that have Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) and their families for an improved life. PAMIS is a registered charity group that works along with the University of Dundee. PAMIS organization was initiated in 1992 and currently they cover five major geographical areas across Scotland including Tayside, Fife, Grampian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde and South Lanarkshire. The major role of this organization is to secure that people with PMLD are respected as contributors to the community and assure they get all necessary support to partake fully in daily life.

Much important is that choices, strengths, and needs handle all provision and policy concerning their lives and the wisdom and experience of family carers are acknowledged. In obtaining this, my organization offers different ranges of practical help, advice, training, and information; individual support and contact with families, assistance to access community resources and lastly the influence on policy and services, both at local and national levels.The first step I did prior start my three weeks of placement was to read the main frameworks and policies to have a good understanding of my responsibilities in relation to children and their protection. For instance, GIRFEC (Getting it right for every child) got as the aim that all children in Scotland get the same opportunity to develop their full potential to become confident, responsible, and productive members of society. It is now legislated through the Children and Young People’s Act 2014.  The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is another framework I read and it has 54 articles that cover all aspects of a child’s life and set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children everywhere are entitled to. It also explains how adults and governments must work together to make sure all children can enjoy all their rights.

  In PAMIS the needs of people are supported in innovative and creative ways, for instance during my three weeks of placement I had an active role in participating in storytelling and housing meetings, making a digital passport, interacting with people with learning disabilities in different day centers. At this facility, individuals are seen as a whole rather than just the defects. To provide an individual centered care at PAMIS, it is essential to know every aspect of our clients at the facility. During my placement at PAMIS, I had an opportunity to assist a young lady with Down Syndrome. My job was to help her with storytelling in the Lily Bank Resource Centre.

It was my very first time ever in my life that I had interacted with an individual with Down syndrome. Helping this lady to write down a folk-tale was not an easy task, as we all know they need their own time to process and elaborate things. Realizing her needs, personality, and character, I decided to work closely with her to fulfill the task.

Needless to say, it was not an easy job, but with my empathy, patience, good quality of interaction and care, I was able to work with the client and complete the task in a timely manner. Firstly of all, I had to build trust with her, which is vital to ensure a relation. Secondly, I had to adapt my communication as simple as possible so she could understand me easily without any difficulties at all. Communication is one of the most important skills of a social worker since it is through our capacity to communicate we make assessments, involve in problem-solving and decision-making activities, settle an implementation plan, and check the effectiveness (Social Work Skills And Knowledge: A Practice Handbook – Pamela Trevithick).

As said in  SSSC Codes of Practice social workers should communicate in an “appropriate, open, accurate and straightforward way” (2003, 2.2).Helping her to create her own story and seeing her narrating it with no fear in front of everyone in that Resource Centre, made me very proud of her. Also seeing that smile on her and moreover, on her parent’s face was so much rewarding.

 Why is storytelling important? Because it is used as a powerful technique of educating children and youth, where their skills of understanding and communication are developed. (Fuller, 1999; Grove, 2009). The positive results of this are even recognized on educational attainment (Fox, 1993). Moreover, storytelling boosts both social and emotional development since it lets to experience close interactions. (Fox?Eades, 2006; Thomas & Killick, 2007). For example, early intimate relationships are often pointed out as crucial to the well-being of children (Trevarthen, 1977).

Nowadays these storytellings are meant to have an important role in the development of early relationships (Hughes, 2004) and has prompted to a campaign by the National Literacy Trust in the UK for parents to read to their children, so in this way  their social, emotional and cognitive development can be promoted (National Literacy Trust, 2007). The multi-sensory storytelling technique (MSST) focuses on reinforcing social interactions and facilitating the learning experience for people with PMLD. It also has therapeutic benefits for individuals with PMLD since they provide novel and stimulating experiences. Multisensory environments, sensory curriculums and basal stimulation are between these multi?sensory approaches. (Pagliano, 1999; Longhorn, 1988; Frölich, 1998). In MSST interactions between listener and storyteller arise because of the use of narrative and sensory stimuli via their intact sensory capacities. This is meaningful to enrich lives of people with PMLD. Like Freeman (2011) indicates, the narrative method in social work practice can help to manage critical moments of clients life such as transitions in lifespan development and lived experiences which have been marginalized.

A sound knowledge and skills base is indispensable to understand people and their situations to develop plans of action according to the circumstances came across. This means understanding how experiences are perceived, understood and communicated by people, how this influence on behavior and life situation. “To some extent, this understanding will always be incomplete and uneven because in the realm of human experience, life is unpredictable and some uncertainty is inevitable” (Marris, 1996).The importance of a relationship-based approach is the base which enables us to understand and help other human beings.

(Munro 2011a:36).This approach is linked with the capacity building activity which emphasizes the role of social workers in enhancing human growth and development. This focus on the capacity of individuals or families to access and benefit from the resources located around them, but it may also involve working alongside service users and carers to press for more and better resources. This is also essential to work with people in ways that can help to maintain the skills they have already built up, but also highlights the potential for greater strengths to be developed (FRENCH 1999). This can be visible in positive changes that occur in the way that people feel about themselves(self- worth, confidence), in relation to others, and how they relate to structures and organizations within society that have an impact on their lives, for example how to access help from appropriate organizations).Social workers got a huge role in PAMIS in making digital passports, which is the most innovative thing they introduced in 2016.

I made a DP of a 17-year-old boy who got physical and learning disabilities. I took the initiative to contact the family over phone firstly and through emails lately to organize the meetings in Lochland Resource Centre, Arbroath. I had to gather information about the service user from my supervisor and also do some researches regarding the different diagnosis of my client. The family was curious about the digital passport since it was the first time that they were asking to make it so I had to explain to them what it consists of, and also what was my involvement in this procedure. One of the main technique of social working is active listening, which I used properly in each meeting with my service user and his family.  One of the approaches I put in action was values-based which consists of respecting the values, views, and understanding of individual client and carers we work with and be open and receptive.

It means also understanding and using our own beliefs in a positive way. At this point, knowledge of core legislations of people with PMLD was essential.The main acts include Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act 2006, Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act 2006   The legislation to create the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2006.Scottish Human Rights Commission   The SHRC exists to promote human rights and, in particular, to encourage best practice in relation to human rights among public authorities. It is independent of government, being instead accountable to the Scottish Parliament. The Commission can give general advice, although it cannot advise on individual cases Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001, Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002, Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2009, Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act (2000), Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007, The Equality Act 2010.Since the assessment is a significant part of the role of the Social Worker, there is also a duty to assess ‘risk’ for the individual and their community. For this, the professional needs to consider the rights of the individual, promoting independence while reducing the chance of harm.

We should work collaboratively with the individual, other professionals, families, and carers to assure all the information is available to contribute to managing the risk.An experience I found interesting during my placement was participating in different team meetings regarding housing and funding for leisure activities for disabled people. I have been to Perth Council for a housing meeting with this mom who got a son of 30 years old with physical disabilities. Her son had to be transferred from one respite care to another because those were shutting down. At the moment, her son is staying in this care home in Glasgow and even that is shutting down on April. Being fed up and anxious thinking his son will be homeless after April, she drew a plan on building a residential/care home in Perth. So the meeting was for her to show the sketches she made to the appropriate professionals dealing with housing, so they can take it accordingly to the authorities. Here our role was to connect our service user with other agencies and work in partnership for the wellbeing of her disabled son.

Almost 7,000 children in Scotland got complex needs and with this raising figure, there will be always a requirement to provide multi-agency support for their health and personal needs. This means social work cannot exist without working in partnership.So the benefits in integrating our work with other agencies are that a skill mix of staff can boost better outcomes for service users, and an expanded understanding of the roles and responsibilities of individual practitioners from different services. The Social Worker is considered to be the lead professional who may be responsible for the management and co-ordination of services where there are complex needs.

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