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Inter-proffesional Collaboration in Social Work

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Introduction

'Social Workers based in social work teams are expected to know how to collaborate effectively with other professions from a range of agencies in order to provide effective and appropriate services' (Quinney, 2005, p9) In this piece of work I am going to examine the strengths and weaknesses of inter-professional collaboration by reflecting on my own experience of working in an action learning set, my observations of inter-professional collaboration in different environments, as well as a range of other resources. I am also going to evaluate my own potential contribution to effective inter-professional collaboration. Rawson, 1994 (cited in Leathard, 2003) has devised a mapping of sets, one example of this is shown below: This model of sets can apply to various different professions but for this example the sets accommodate health, social care and housing. Rawson, 1994 (cited in Leathard, 2003) points out that professional work may blur as a result of these sets. Nevertheless, due to the constantly changing structures of health and social care these boundaries may dissolve, which is illustrated in the example by the dotted lines, which in turn leads to professional responsibility being shared or absorbed by one group. As social work overlaps both health and housing, Rawson, 1994 (cited in leathard, 2003) would describe these boundaries as being permeable, and if the boundaries then become impermeable professionals would then 'have to reach an agreement over work sharing that is mutually acceptable or agree to differ' (p37). An example of the permeable boundaries can be illustrated by looking at the difference between the medical model and the social model; although they inevitably overlap they each have different disciplines (Leathard, 2003). ...read more.

Middle

As well as this she also liaises with other social workers, GP's, occupational therapists and community support workers outside the hospital. The team as a unit collaborates with as many voluntary organisations as possible to try and take the focus away from the mental issues and try and resolve the problems in their lives, such as alcohol or substance abuse. They use organisations such as relate, age concern and other agencies that deal with drugs and alcohol abuse, and many more besides. The overall impression that Anne gave was that inter-professional collaboration was very effective in this unit, although it took time for people to adapt to the roles of others, and feels that one of the most positive things to come from inter-professional collaboration is that it helps achieve a continuity of care. This is achieved mainly from the use of the ECPA (Electronic Care Programme Approach). This is a special system on the computer that many professionals from many agencies have access to. The system allows for good accessibility to patients files. Every service user has their own file on the system in which the details of their case have been logged, either in the hospital or in the community. The consequent visitors to the client after the database has been set up can easily access the records which hold valuable and up to date information about care plans, referrals and safety profiles. The ECPA is a really effective way of collaborating between professionals that has the added bonus of not being very time consuming. The ECPA allows several agencies to update the profile of the service user on the database which any other professional can access. ...read more.

Conclusion

From the range of observations that I attended as well as my own experience within the Action Learning Set it is easy to understand why the concept of inter-professional collaboration was introduced. When put in place effectively the use of inter-professional collaboration can make the outcome for the service user much better than if the agencies worked alone, and also makes the individual agencies' roles much easier as they have much more information to use when assessing the service user's needs and how the are going to help them. As I said earlier, the concept of collaboration is one that is seen to be very promising and effective, but in reality it is much more difficult to achieve, and the breakdown of communication and conflict of interests can make the original job much harder than it was before the introduction of collaboration. Sussex (2004) shows us a ladder of collaboration, and shows us 7 points that aid effective collaboration. These points include being aware of the roles of others, as well as being aware that they exist in the first instance; you need to find out who is involved in the case and refer to other agencies (Sussex, 2004). As collaboration becomes more effective you will begin to liaise more with other agencies involved with the service user, and in time conduct regular meetings in order to achieve the best outcome foe the service user, and eventually, when collaboration is at its most effective, you will begin to invite outside agencies to meetings within your own agency (Sussex, 2004). It becomes apparent that if each professional has a strong professional identity then collaboration is good, whereas a weak professional identity can lead to problems as the worker is unsure of their own role (Sussex, 2004). ...read more.

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