How your previous practice experiences has affected your personal values and the ways in which they have changed in response to that experience
My previous practice experience has had impact on my personal values; most notably how I treat people I have contact with and the way I respond to situations where discrimination and inequality has occurred. For the first part of this assignment I shall be discussing how my previous practice experience has affected my personal values and reflecting on how they have changed as a result. Working in a hostel for people who are homeless has had a significant impact on my personal values. At first I was reluctant to work with residents who had been convicted of section one offences.
I felt that they were less deserving than the other residents (p. 64 Main text). In supervision I realized that I was judging them solely on their convictions and was not seeing the person as an individual. I admitted to making a moral judgment about whether they deserved support. After having a number of positive experiences with some of these residents I was able to separate the individual from their actions and to get to know the whole person. I am now conscious that while it is important to be fully informed of the potential risks, it is essential not to make judgments about them based solely on this information.
Respecting them as individuals is essential in order to have a positive working relationship with them. I am also aware that I had been practicing in a discriminatory manner as I could have been withholding a service from someone who could have benefited. My personal values also changed as a result of working with people suffering from mental distress. Before I worked with them I was not aware of how my preconceived ideas had been based primarily on the media’s portrayal, in particular assuming that they were all dangerous (Study Unit 1, section 3. p52).
Within my practice I have been able to work with a client using autobiographical work (Aids to practice cards K111) in order that he was able to examine and begin to come to terms with the lack of acceptance of his distress within his family. As a consequence of this work I feel that my attitude has changed, I am aware of the importance of treating people as individuals rather than a homogenous group. This has increased my confidence in challenging negative attitudes held by other people. I am most aware of this with my friends.
When friends made negative remarks regarding the risk to society from “mad” people, I was able to give them factual information to challenge their assumptions. I also have a new approach to assessing needs and planning care, with an awareness of the effect of discrimination within the assessment process. I work in partnership with the individual as much as possible in the assessment process, rather than make judgments and decisions based upon previous knowledge and experience. I have also become aware that people suffering with mental distress often have low self-esteem and self-confidence.
I now try to work in ways that seek to empower people, for example, providing information so that they can make informed choices and involving them in decisions regarding their care. My recent experience of working with children with disabilities whilst on placement has also had an affect on my personal values. I was naive in my Christian value of unconditional love, believing and expecting that all parents would be able to love their children unconditionally. Having worked with this client group over the last couple of months I am aware of the conflict many parents feel toward their disabled child.
At present I am working with a family whose daughter was recently born with facial deformities. The mother placed a high value on appearances and is finding it difficult to bond with her daughter. She speaks to the baby in a derogatory way, telling her that she is ugly. Bowlby places an importance of “establishing a relationship with a clearly identified other person – his mother; to be achieved by the age of six months. ” (K100, Offprints, p. 2. ). He believes that if this is not achieved the child will have difficulty in forming its own sense of identity.
Within this piece of work therefore I aimed to support mum with her conflicting feelings towards Alicia and to challenge her thoughts about the baby through a process of cognitive restructuring (Set Book, p184) helped mum to come to resolve the conflict she was feeling towards her daughter. As a consequence of my practice experience I have become more involved in challenging this negative stereotype, whilst at the same time respecting, valuing and treating the family with dignity. Whilst working in the Children with Disabilities team I have worked with a diverse range of families.
Initially I assumed that the families would have great difficulty coping with a child who was disabled and born with physical health needs. The hospital felt that the family needed social services input, after assessing the baby’s needs I decided that she was receiving adequate support from her mother and extended family, and that the mother did not want social work input, as she already felt overwhelmed by the amount of professional staff involved. Previous to this practice I probably would have remained involved even though there was no clear role, however I now realize how disempowering (Aids to practice cards) this can be for individuals.
After visiting several families and learning how to use the framework for assessment for children in need, I now recognize the variety of strengths that the parents have to function as a family unit, that these need to be valued and built upon when developing packages of care, and that central to the assessment is the needs of the child. I also now feel I am more conscious of being open-minded and try to assist and enable them to gain more control over their lives. Describe your current understanding of professional social work values and how you have arrived at this understanding.
Outline those issues, which you find problematic and want to work on in your current placement. 1145 When I started examining professional social work values I found them rather abstract and difficult to grasp. By relating them to my practice however, they have become more tangible and offer me a positive framework on how to behave. I recognize I have been practicing in a manner that generally upholds the values outlined in the professional code of ethics for CCETSW and BASW, as they are similar to my personal values, in particular respecting people as individuals and promoting people rights.
I have become increasingly aware, however, of those I am finding problematic, in particular the conflicts arising when assisting people to gain control over their lives and identifying and challenging oppressive practice. For the purpose of this assignment I will be describing how I have arrived at my current understanding of these two values and outlining the issues that I am finding difficult. I have found empowerment to be an underlying principle in social work practice. I understand it relates to respecting people’s right to independence and enabling them to gain more control over their own lives.
It can relate to individuals or groups, for example through greater involvement in decisions affecting their own lives or increased user participation in meetings regarding service delivery. Biesteck (1961) included self-determination in his list of values and can be seen to be the predecessor to empowerment (Set Book, Shardlow p26). BASW (1986) developed this and included it in their code of ethics. It can also be recognized in the CCETSW code of ethics in relation to promoting peoples rights and assisting people to increase control and improve their quality of life.
Braye and Preston Shoot (1995) also highlighted the importance of empowerment through enabling people to take control over their lives, make decisions and achieve their goals. (Set Book, Shardlow p31). In practice I try to achieve this by ensuring people are actively involved in the assessment process and formulate care plans that reflect identified needs of the individual. I have found trying to uphold the principle of empowerment can be difficult when working within the constraints of resources available.
During my placement I have been working with a family who has a son with autistic spectrum disorder. The family had recently moved to the area and in their previous county they had received a comprehensive package of care. I ensured that the parents were fully involved in the assessment process and that they had control of the decisions regarding their son’s care. Following the assessment the son was identified as medium priority due to his needs and certain services were identified.
The parents had difficulty accepting their son was not high priority and felt that certain services should have been in place immediately. I acknowledged the home situation must be difficult at times; however other people have children at home with much more complex needs. I found this very challenging as I was trying to practice in a way that was empowering to the family but had to work within the constraints of competing rights and demands. I feel I need to develop ways of working that still empower people within the constraints of eligibility criteria and limited resources.
Developing a support group for people in similar situation so they can campaign for increased resources could possibly do this. In this instance I advised them to complain to the Director of Social Services to ensure their views were acknowledged, but still feel groups of people have a louder voice. Anti-oppressive practice can be distinguished from anti-discriminatory practice as it challenges the use and abuse of power either between individuals or in the wider context of organizations and society (Clifford 1995 cited in set book, Burke and Harrison, p231).
It addresses the impact of power on all forms of relationships including client/worker, employer/employee and agency culture (Dominelli 1998 p7). Anti-discriminatory practice in contrast challenges inequality in accessing services and highlights through partnership and participation (Burke and Preston-Shoot 1995, in Study Unit1, section 8. 1 p77). The issue of empowerment again seems crucial to anti-oppressive practice as it helps to rebalance the power between service users and professionals and promotes user involvement in meetings regarding service delivery.
Dalrymple and Burke (1995 also highlighted this in study unit 1 section 8. 1 p78). In contrast, with anti-discriminatory practice the power seems to remain within the professionals or the organization. Anti-oppressive practice is defined in the CCETSW values requirements in terms of identifying, analyzing and taking action to counter disadvantage, inequality and injustice. I feel I am more able to identify and analyze when oppressive practice has occurred and have been able to counter it on an individual basis.
During my placement however I have become much more aware of oppressive practices within organizational structures and feel the need to develop strategies to counter this. My awareness of oppressive practices within organizations developed while working with a lady previously discussed who had recently given birth to a daughter who had physical health needs. The health visitor had been concerned that she was not bonding well with her daughter. She asked for an assessment, as she was concerned she would not be able to meet her needs properly. I became involved with the family and completed an assessment.
The assessment identified mum’s conflict of emotions but did not identify neglect or risk to the baby at this time. In discussions with her it became apparent she had felt extremely dis-empowered in regard to the several different consultants involved in her daughter’s care and she felt as though she had no control over decisions regarding her daughter. Through the process of supporting mum with her conflicting feelings at the same time challenging her derogatory words to the baby, her confidence in her ability to look after her daughter greatly increased and she felt much more in control.
On reflection I was able to identify that this situation was an example of institutional oppressive practice. I don’t feel I had been aware that organizations can operate in an oppressive way before and took it for granted they were working for the good of the people. In this situation it was agreed that no further involvement from social services would increase the lady’s care of her daughter. This again reinforces how the concepts of empowerment and anti-oppressive practice are intertwined. I do feel however that I need to increase my confidence in challenging organizational oppression.
In conclusion I feel that my personal values have changed as a result of my practice experience, in particular respecting people as individuals and trying to work in a non-judgmental manner. I am currently trying to develop my professional practice so that it underpins the professional social work values outlined in the code of ethics by CCETSW and BASW. This has at times been challenging in particular when working within the constraints of limited resources, and when trying to counter oppressive practice.