Interprofessional working in mental health
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A critical analysis of Inter-professional Working in Community Care This assignment aims to critically analyse the working relationship between mental health and social care professionals. It is argued barriers exist between these two key providers of services that prevent service users receiving the best care. (Milburn A 2000). This working relationship can be defined as inter-professional working and this assignment will examine what these barriers involve, why they have developed, how they might be overcome and what the implications for service users and Approved Social Workers (ASW's) if increased inter-professional working is required under government policies as is expected. McDonald (1999 p123) proposes inter-professional working to be when multi-disciplinary professionals work in highly integrated teams where the team priorities are the strongest influence upon the individuals work decisions, Therefore, teamwork theories will be analysed to highlight what factors are necessary for success, and what are the possible difficulties that may inhibit co-operation between health and social care professionals, and how this impacts on their practice. Finally, whether or not inter-professional working is empowering for the service user will be critically analysed. People with mental health problems are at the centre of a complex network of services provided by a range of organisations and professionals. For people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 this is especially true, and for whom social services and health each have explicit statutory responsibilities. (SSI 2001) The Government has stated they are committed to reforming the current mental health legislation and have published a white paper giving details of these reforms. (BASW 2001) The complexity of mental health services requires inter-professional working at all levels of strategic planning, management and delivery of services. The National Service Framework for Mental Health has raised the profile of the need for effective collaboration between these two agencies and the Health Act 1999 introduced provision for greater flexibility in commissioning services and the pooling of their resources.
(Watkins et al 1996 p 366) Watkins et al (1996 p67) point to the dominant frames of reference by which health workers and social workers address presenting problems. Health workers tend to adopt a biophysical frame emphasising disease, pathology and its treatment contrasting with the psychosocial frame of reference that social workers use that emphasises the psychosocial context and definitions of problems and which is suspicious of pathological models of human problems. Another problematic area affecting the outcome of successful inter-professional working are structural differences between the agencies, for example, mental health services have different career patterns, management structures, and conditions of service and pay scales to social work. When working together this result in each person having different decision-making, and different access to resources resulting in power imbalances that may influence decisions and an individual workers ability to negotiate their 'corner'. Issues of loyalty will have to be addressed as Ovreit et al (1997 p14) point out there may be confusion within the team as professionals, are unclear where their 'loyalties' lie - to their team or their profession. Bowen, Marler and Androes (1965) define the psychiatric team as a process whereby various professionals who make individual decisions concerning patients and who share a common purpose meet together to communicate and share knowledge from which plans are made. Therefore, it can be said that a team is not just a physical collection of individuals, but a process, central to this process Campbell et al (1998 p71) believe should be the aim of the team. However, Watkins et al (1996p67) argues because the predominant value orientation of health and of social work differs significantly there will be difficulty in reaching an agreement, for example, the guiding value for social work is 'respect for persons' the corresponding value for health workers is 'respect for life'. Consequently, this could lead to conflict when for example joint assessing the need for someone to be sectioned.
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