How has social work changed over the years? What are some of the best social work teams doing differently to meet the complex practical and emotional needs of service users? What practical tools and approaches can social work managers implement with their teams? Dr. Judy Foster examines good social work practice and the supporting factors that are essential to underpin social work teams – coherent policies; well-qualified and motivated staff; good management support structures; delegated autonomy and discretion for social workers; and mental space to allow reflective and creative problem solving.
She illustrates the dilemmas and rewards of social work relationships through personal stories from her own career as a social worker, manager and teacher - and interviews with social workers and managers. These examples show the relationship between ‘doing’ something for someone and ‘being’ emotionally present to empower a service user to manage better. The book is intended to help social work managers improve the support environment for their teams – and hence their effectiveness – and to inform students and others in related professions interested in learning more about social work. It will also have a wide appeal to an international social work readership.
'This lively and engaging book gives us vivid insights into the rewards and challenges of managing social work teams. Although most social workers operate in teams, there is little material of evidenced practice available to managers to make their teams more effective - a gap that Judy Foster's book helpfully fills.' - Terry Bamford, Chair, Social Work History Network, U.K
'This is an unusual and original book, blending deep analytical reflection on a long career in social work, training and management with a systematic empirical study of how front line teams survive, flourish, or fail in the context of modern pressures. Lucid, lively and scholarly, this is essential reading for practitioners, leaders and policy makers with a genuine concern for the state of our services and the mental well-being of our workforce.' - Andrew Cooper, Professor of Social Work, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, U.K
'I warmly commend this book to social work practitioners, managers and students, and to other professionals working in allied fields, as it offers a compassionate, reasoned and realistic understanding of the challenges faced on a daily basis by individuals experiencing distress and vulnerability, and those seeking to support and empower them.' - Gillian Ruch, Professor of Social Work, University of Sussex, U.K
List of figures
List of tables
Chapter 1: Social work – The modern era
Why do we need social workers?
Chapter 2: Support for different service users
Empowerment, maintenance, containment
Understanding service users
Chapter 3: Relating to service users and deciding interventions
Chapter 4: Beneath the surface of three teams
The district social work team
The hospital social work team
The mental health social work team
Chapter 5: Methodology used to study the three teams
Chapter 6: The need for a coherent policy framework
Chapter 7: Professional skills and development
Chapter 8: Management structures
Chapter 9: Maximizing autonomy
Chapter 10: Mental space to think reflectively
Chapter 11: Conclusions
Chapter 12: What now?
Appendix 1: Strength of the five factors for the teams
Appendix 2: Record of meetings of the teams
Meetings of the district team
Meetings of the hospital team
Meetings of the mental health team