Research

    Jill Manthorpe on a study of how social workers deal with the
    pressures of being care managers, and Jane Watt looks at research
    on four social inclusion projects’ community work.

    Care management

    A study of care managers working with older people.

    Constant change and restricted resources may characterise much
    social work activity, but they were two of the main issues
    identified in a study of care managers working with older people.
    In this research, Postle interviewed 23 care managers and their
    managers in two social services areas.

    The care managers also highlighted the impact of the service
    context and the growth of managerialism on their practice. Both
    resulted in reduced contact time with clients and a limited use of
    their abilities with older service users. Paperwork seemed to take
    up considerable amounts of time, with information technology rarely
    saving much time with its supposed greater efficiency.

    The increased volume of work squeezed out direct engagement with
    service users, and some care managers saw a growing blurring of
    differences between qualified and unqualified staff. Postle
    considers that emphasis on competence and on procedures serves to
    dilute professional skills such as reflection and judgement.

    The interviews revealed that care managers could respond to
    their work in a variety of ways. Some clearly brought their social
    work skills into the work of care management and forged
    relationships with service users in as helpful a way as they could
    – not always with the support of their managers. Others found care
    management tasks appropriate and were willing to take on functions
    of gate keeping and assessment. Less comfortable, however, were
    those who felt frustrated by their limited abilities to work with
    service users, and there were some who had become further
    demoralised or confused about their role. A small group of them
    seemed to have adapted well to a more client-processing role and
    were more satisfied.

    This research offers a useful and interesting picture of care
    management. In common with other studies it found evidence of
    professional disquiet.

    Source: Karen Postle, “The social work side is
    disappearing. It started with us being called care managers”,
    Practice 13(1), 2001.

    Jill Manthorpe is a senior lecturer in community care at
    the University of Hull.

    Social inclusion

    An action research project on social inclusion and community
    development.

    Recent social policy has concentrated on regenerating
    communities in partnership with communities, which has thrown up
    potential benefits and some problems.

    This report covers a three-year action-research project and
    provides a thorough examination of the issues, from philosophical
    concerns to examples of practice.

    The four projects examined were based in Scotland.

    – Participative approaches to community care in Kincardine (a
    large village in Fife).

    – Participation of ethnic minority carers in inner-city
    neighbourhoods in Glasgow.

    – A council-wide disability strategy group in partnership with
    community organisations, in south Lanarkshire Council.

    – Community link volunteers and care needs in remote rural
    communities in Lochaber.

    The case studies are clear and helpful so that the reader can
    easily draw parallels (or not) with their own community.

    There are many basic lessons to be learned. For example, in
    Kincardine, most of the first year of the project was spent
    clarifying roles and relationships between services. It was also
    realised that for most of the community, community care was a much
    broader idea than a specific set of services. Participation
    required a much more holistic approach.

    The report summarises the four perspectives of active
    stakeholders: community leaders; service users; frontline workers,
    and managers. These perspectives have significant implications for
    agency policies and strategies, and the most prominent themes are
    interdependence and trust.

    The conclusions show that, “there can be no template for forming
    partnerships”, and that community development is an organic process
    that must embrace local history, perspectives, aspirations and
    culture.

    The project and its findings will be excellent reading for many
    at those local authorities intending to take forward the issues of
    social inclusion and caring communities.

    Source: Alan Barr, Carolyn Stenhouse and Paul Henderson,
    Caring Communities – A Challenge for Social Inclusion,
    Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2001.

    Jane Watt is a freelance social worker and
    trainer.

    More from Community Care

    Comments are closed.