Assessment is particularly important as it creates the foundations of a social workers work with the service user.

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Tuning-In to Assessment        B00461788

Assessment is a central element in social work practice.  It is a common misconception held by the public that social work practice is merely a series of well-meaning but otherwise uncoordinated activities (Haines, 1981). This, however, is not the case. Social work practice is a highly organised profession. A certain process is followed when dealing with a service user. The stages of this process include assessment, planning, intervention and review.  

‘Assessment involves gathering and interpreting information in order to understand a person and their circumstances; the desirability and feasibility of change and the services and resources which are making necessary to affect it. It involves making judgements based on information’ (Middleton, 1997, p.5).

Assessment is particularly important as it creates the foundations of a social worker’s work with the service user. The purpose of a social workers assessment is to help them to understand the situation  that he/she is dealing with and to identify the relevant factors in a situation (Pincus, 1973). It is also important to realise that assessment does not only take place in the in the beginning of the case. Assessment is an ongoing, dynamic process which continues throughout the process of working with a service user. As situations change and people change it is tremendously important to re-assess the client in order to deal with there issues appropriately. Assessment is the beginning of a process of change for the service user. Meetings between service users are therefore not merely an unorganised, random act. It is organised and assessment is a major part of the process of change, developed between the social worker and the client.

Assessment is a central part of effective social work practice. This is clear by the number of types of assessment a social worker is involved with.

One type of assessment is a single event assessment (Ni Raghnallaigh, 2007). This is where a social worker does one assessment of an individual at a specific time in their lives. In this one meeting with the service user the social worker intends on identifying needs and goals for the client as well as ways of achieving these (Ni Raghnallaigh, 2007). They may only re-assess the service user if need to produce a report for a court appearance or case conference. As we all know, people change, and situations change. For that reason, a single assessment will only give a picture of a person at that particular time. The original assessment may not present an accurate picture of the situation a year or as little as a month on. In addiction cases a service user may relapse, or in child protection a new partner may come on the scene and lead to a child being at risk. So, it is clear that single event forms of assessment are not always efficient ways of assessing clients.

Another type of assessment is one that is an on-going activity (Haines, 1981). This form of assessment is now recognised as a more effective style. Social workers attempt to continuously re-assess their service users in order to deal with their problems more successfully. As I mentioned above, situations often change for service users. Therefore, it is necessary to frequently assess and re-assess. This will guarantee that the correct plan is in place for service users. Constant assessments will result in nothing being overlooked or unnoticed. Plans can be changed or altered for clients as the result of the findings of a new assessment. Social work is being seen more and more as a process in which assessment and intervention are interconnected (Ni Raghnallaigh, 2007).

The types of assessments which social workers are involved with vary. Different forms of assessment are used in different situations. Sometimes it is down to the social worker to choose which form of assessment they will use. Other times they are required to do a specific assessment, for example if a client is due in court.

One of the most common assessment social workers will deal with is risk assessment. Risk assessment is carried out when the likelihood of something negative happening or not happening to a child is uncertain (Buckley, Horwath & Whelan, 2006). This kind of assessment is carried out for groups of people who are most vulnerable, for example children, people with disabilities, elderly people. This type of assessment examines a service users individual and family conditions to identify if there are any risk factors (Ni Raghnallaigh, 2007). The information found in a risk assessment is used to see whether a service user is safe, and what resources may be needed to keep the service user safe (Ni Raghnallaigh, 2007).   Risk assessment reports involve gathering a large body of information in order to ensure the correct action is taken. This information includes information on past events, whether the person has come to any harm in the past, information about any special needs the service user may have, details about family members and their ability to care for the service user, details of any significant changes in the service users life, the availability of supports and resources, professional opinions from relevant experts involved, and reports made by doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists (Ni Raghnallaigh, 2007). This information is crucial in forming a full picture of the service user’s circumstances.  

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Another form of assessment is multi-disciplinary assessment. It is becoming more and more common that social work assessments must be carried out in partnership with other agencies and professionals (Coulshed & Orme, 2006). A good example of a multi-disciplinary assessment is for hospital discharge. In this situation, a multi-disciplinary team work together to arrange the most suitable discharge plan for the patient. This team would include consultants, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and a social worker. The social worker would not be able to fulfill a complete assessment of the patient without the help of these other professionals. Child protection investigations ...

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