Presentation on theme: "To what extent do experiences of using services or caring for someone influence the perspectives and practice of social work students at Queens University."— Presentation transcript:
To what extent do experiences of using services or caring for someone influence the perspectives and practice of social work students at Queens University Belfast? Damien Kavanagh School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work Queens University Belfast N. Ireland
About me A Dad and Partner Mental health experiences within myself and my family Mental Health Social Worker Pre-employment checks and disclosure – Risk? Background in (passion for) mental health peer advocacy Graduate student (MRes) I am nervous
Aims of enquiry To identify and explore the levels of health and social care service use, and caring responsibilities, among social work students at Queens University Belfast. Investigate the prevalence of client and carer self- identification among a population of social work students. Investigate the level of self-identification and disclosure among social work students.
Aims of enquiry Identify whether and to what extent the social work students perceive clients and carers as other than themselves. Consider whether a relationship exists between the policy, practice and identity issues involved. This study also sought to explore whether future social workers presume that the people they will work with and support are vulnerable or oppressed.
Northern Ireland Context 1.7 million population Legacy of the conflict Sectarianism Increasing diversity Integrated service - issues Community and Voluntary Sector
Unionism / Loyalism
Nationalism / Republicanism
Terminology and language Challenges in defining categories (McLaughlin, 2009). Service user: someone who has used or uses services in Health and Social Care. Caregiver: someone who has or has had an on- going emotional or practical interest in the wellbeing of a service user.
Social context Society emerging post-conflict. Disability issues were not the main concern. Conflict issues were and are not the main concern for many disabled citizens and caregivers. Social Work part of an integrated Health and Social Care setting.
Legislative context The Special Educational Needs and Disability Order (SENDO) 1 September Extended Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to ensure equal opportunities in Higher Education. Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (aka Good Friday Agreement). Duty on public bodies to promote equality of opportunity.
Disclosure Disclosure is the responsibility of the student, as a personal decision. Unclear how students may be facilitated in addressing barriers to self-disclosure within context of personal choice. Notion of process in a fluid ecological context, as opposed to single event.
Identity Fluid discourses, subjectively significant experiences and categorisation (Chapell et al, 2003; Goffman, 1958) Individual agency and power imbalances (Clark, 2006) Opportunities for identity redefinition (Foucault, 1994) Otherness and professional socialisation, denying personal experiences (Clouder, 2001)
Identity Evidence-informed practice and objectivity in context of humanity and subjectivity (Wiles, 2011) Disability as a medical, personal tragedy (Oliver and Sapey, 2006) Fear of disclosure and unfitness to practise (Wray et al, 2005)
Citizen involvement Citizen leadership increasingly central to social work education (Farrow and Fillingham, 2011) research (Rose, 2008; Kavanagh et al, 2012), policy and practice (Duffy, 2008). Service users and caregivers involved in design and delivery of curriculum and regulation of workforce. Helps reduce distance between experience and interpretation (Beresford, 2007). Potential for over-involvement (Rose, 2008).
Social work as an entity Multi-disciplinary, integrated nature of health and social care and marginalisation of social work (Judd and Sheffield, 2010). Regulatory requirements, heightened accountability as surveillance of workers (McLaughlin, 2010). Target and performance driven philosophy (Heffernan, 2006).
Higher Education Structural and institutional norms which differ from students culture and values (Reay et al, 2010). Internships compound this with organisational norms (Hughes et al, 2007). Diversity of and micro-political nature of internship settings exacerbate issue (Dutton and Worsley, 2009).
Methodology Sample Phase one: Initial purposive sample across BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) undergraduate program (n=122). Phase two: Convenience sample of a priori criteria – those who self-identify as service user, caregiver or both.
Methodology Data collection Mixed method – Phase one survey (using Personal Response System) Phase two semi-structured interviews. Interview and survey schedule. Informed consent. Analysis Subjective experiences warranted inductive approach. SPSS and thematic framework.
Results and analysis GenderFrequencyPercentage Male Female Total Table1: Frequency of survey participants by gender
Disabled students DisabilityFrequencyPercentage None Physical impairment10.9 Hearing impairment21.8 Sensory impairment10.9 Learning Disability65.4 Total Table 2: Frequency table of cohort by disability, as disclosed.
As a future social worker do you regard service users as different from you? FrequencyPercentage Yes No Valid Total Table 3: Frequency table of cohorts views regarding service users.
Please indicate if you have ever used or are using services beyond Primary Care. FrequencyValid Percent Yes6055 No4945 Valid Total Table 4 : Breakdown of service use beyond primary care.
Self-identification and otherness Used/using services beyond primary care View service users as differentTotal YesNo Yes No Total
Interviews Available sample = 20 Actual sample = 6 social work students
Future practitioner profiles Rita : Initial child protection social work assessment in respect of her own children. Past and current experiences as a carer for her father, who lives with physical support needs. Stephanie: Prior use of cancer services. Present experiences as a consequence of having used these services, in terms of the physical and emotional effects of treatment. Rose: A caregiver for her brother, who lives with an intellectual disability.
Future practitioner profiles Barbara: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in respect of her son. Lived experiences of a parent who lives with alcohol addiction. Anna: Someone living with epilepsy in addition to experiences as a child and adult with a parent who lives with alcohol addiction. Ursula: Experienced sexual abuse as a child, and on- going mental health needs who made use of counselling services in relation to these experiences. Experiences of living in and leaving local authority care.
Questions Influence on how they perceive themselves. Influence of how others perceive them. How their experiences have influenced their approaches to social work. Their readiness to disclose their experiences in a public setting.
Labelling, otherness and sameness Now that Im a social worker I dont want to give too much away.... I view my illness and how it shaped my life differently.... I remember the first day.... thinking, What are people going to think about someone on crutches? I need to get off crutches before I go on placement.... I was always conscious that it was about me feeling different from other people, and that all came from being sick. Stephanie
Self-labelling I made the realisation that Im a carer and not just a family member. I could see people around me answering differently.... my life experiences are different from everyone elses.... Its more than being a sister; I dont know any of my friends who would be mothering their 16 year old brother. Rose
Sameness I think its important to think through past experiences and be aware of the potential impact on people. Im no different from anyone else.... Our lives are basically the same as the people we are going to be offering support to. Weve just been a bit luckier with the circumstances, and I think thats the only difference. Barbara
Language Its all about the words that you use. People are in contact with social services for a reason, but its always service user vulnerable, not service user strong. Its about the pathology of service user status and experiences, people need to practice thinking about people in a different light, as experts on themselves. Ursula
Balance and Fluidity I have grown as a person... I am a professional and I bring my life experiences. I will not deny these; theyll not be put in a box..... I now know the other side of the relationship.... I always check how I think about things; its about personal and professional safety. Ursula
Disclosure Reinforcing good practice. My family and my Gateway experience was a more positive experience and I would be more willing to share this. I wouldnt be though if it had been a bad experience. Rita
Disclosure Social justice and advocacy. Yes, when I have to stand up for them when someone makes a remark....I felt hurt and insulted, but now that Im on the social work course Im trying to handle situations better.... I dont want him (brother) to be an object or subject to be talked about. Rose
Disclosure Access to accommodations, institutional and personal. I did, mostly for support materials and to increase my accessibility. The previous University didnt ask and I didnt tell them. I had friends from school with me who supported me. Anna
Disclosure Ownership and protection of experiences I said a couple of sentences but didnt say too much detail about it. I think that if you bring your life experience and once you put it out there someone else owns your personal information. Ursula
Other emergent themes Experience-informed practice, linking experience to interpretation. Positivity and expertise. Balanced approach to negotiating multiple identities within a context of fluidity and professionalization. Institutions facilitating service users and caregivers on the program to contribute to learning. Fitness to practise.
Limitations My lived experiences and potential bias. Regular reflections in supervision assisted. Possibility of desirable responses from interviewees. Limited sampling frame in context of academic timetable. The good grace of students and teaching staff facilitated this. Challenges in migrating data from the Personal Response System to SPSS. Survey - level of non-response for each question. Interview sample limited from the point of view of gender, as no males were recruited for interview.
Conclusions Subjective interpretations of user and carer self-identification exist. Who owns disclosure? The extent to which this cohort of students perceive service users and carers as other than themselves is also significant. Variances in perceptions of experiences, ranging from presumed vulnerability to presumed strength, hope and opportunity (Sakamoto and Pitner, 2005). Sensitivities to the concept of holding blurred and fluid identities as human beings, as opposed to binary relationships between lived experiences and professional work practice (Chapell et al, 2003).
Conclusions Disclosure underpinned by a critical tension between individual agency and professional socialisation (Clark, 2006). Pertinent questions about social work education and practice as a potentially and paradoxically oppressive forum for practitioners with lived experiences, and whether or not meaningful supports exist for these people (Webber and Robinson, 2011). Further research explicitly in relation to the concept of otherness.
A final word on Northern Ireland.....
References Beresford, P. and Croft, S. (2004) Service Users and Practitioners Reunited: The Key Component for Social Work Reform, British Journal of Social Work 34 (1): Beresford, P. (2007) The Changing Roles and Tasks of Social Work from Service Users Perspectives: A literature informed discussion paper, London: Shaping Our Lives/General Social Care Council. Beresford, P. (2008) We dont see her as a social worker: a service user case study of the importance of the social workers relationship and humanity. British Journal of Social Work, 38(7): Chappell, C., Rhodes, C., Solomon, N., Tennant. M. and Yates, L. (2003) Reconstructingthe Lifelong Learner: pedagogy and identity in individual, organisational and socialchange, London: RoutledgeFalmer. Clark, C. (2006) Moral character in social work,British Journal of Social Work, 36(1): Cooper, A. (2008) Social work [electronic resource] : an introduction to contemporary practice, Harlow: Pearson Longman.
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