Quality in practice: Guidance on assessment tools

Brian Taylor looks at the assessment tools at the heart of good safeguarding

Brian Taylor looks at the assessment tools at the heart of good safeguarding

Assessment can support decision-making that is perceived as reasonable and reasoned. It is essential that the social work profession uses a range of assessment tools to undertake work competently and for it to have credibility.

Why use assessment tools?

A good assessment tool supports suitably comprehensive gathering of information and helps to order and analyse the information gathered so that the client can make an informed choice, or the best care or safeguarding plan can be drawn up.

What makes a good assessment tool?

A good assessment tool gathers all appropriate information once. The style of a good framework promotes the involvement of those assessed and captures the support of family and other carers. For the social worker, a good assessment tool brings knowledge into practice and promotes communication with other professionals.

Holistic approach

Assessment arrangements must be integrated across professions and organisations. This is because the needs of people cared for at home are complex and inter-agency arrangements for safeguarding are increasingly sophisticated. Staged assessment tools make the burden of assessment for clients, families and professionals appropriate to their needs. Unified or single assessment systems provide a common core process across professions and organisations.

The role of specialist assessment tools

Social workers have a particularly important role in co-ordinating a holistic assessment so that the various professional contributions are most effectively integrated in the provision of care. However, undertaking specialist assessment is an important part of the social work role also. In the context of integrated assessment systems, specialist assessments by social workers contribute to the holistic picture just like the contribution of other professions.

Use the right tools

There is a range of assessment tools that social workers can use. They include those that relate to particular models of practice (such as family therapy), aspects of client and family problems requiring particular attention from the social worker (such as anger management by parents) and assessments that fall particularly within the domain of social work (such as support from social networks).

Brian Taylor is senior lecturer in social work at the University of Ulster

Further information

These points are taken from Brian Taylor’s book Professional Decision Making in Social Work Practice

This article is published in the 12 August 2010 edition of Community Care magazine under the headline Keys to Competent, Credible Decisions

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