This assignment will describe a piece of group work, which I have been involved in during the course of my 70-day placement.
The assignment will analyse the effectiveness of the group work with reference to group work theories. The group in which I have developed is a health and fitness group for adults with learning difficulties, who live within residential services. Participation in this group gives the members a chance to socialise whilst learning new activities and information about health.Merchant (1988) argues that developing as a worker in a group is inadequate, upholding that practitioners also need to be proficient members of teams.
This involves understanding the progression that operates in groups and dexterity in facilitating group relationships and tasks in order to achieve objectives. Groups offer a diverse level of interaction, facilitating learning on a level that is not available through individual methods. Being part of a group can offer a sense of belonging and gives members a chance to aid others in their development as well as be aided themselves.For some, a group is a place to belong, where mutual support, inspiration and trust are offered.
(Coulshed and Orme, 2006). The purpose of the group I worked with is to offer people with learning difficulties, in residential services, the chance to experience various forms of exercise and learn about healthy lifestyle choices. It aims to provide opportunities for members to develop positive relationships, enabling them to make friends and have fun. Cole and Llyod (2007) emphasise the prevailing capability group work has to engage marginalised populations.
Adults with learning difficulties are particularly at risk of being socially excluded. According to a national survey cited in Valuing People Now (Department of Health, 2007), 31% of people with learning difficulties have no friends. The paper goes on to suggest that organising service provision to include integration is one way that can contribute to people’s social contacts. I was given the task of starting the group, along with another member of staff who is a senior support worker in one of the residential houses.
There are also three other senior support workers who are charged with responsibility for facilitating the group. The members who attend the group are accompanied by staff members from their individual houses. All of the people living within residential services were invited to the first session, which totalled almost 50 people. However, it was thought to be unlikely that everybody would attend as some people may have other commitments.
The size of a group is very important in terms of group dynamics and should be large enough for stimulation, yet small enough for contribution and acknowledgment of each member (Brown 1992). At the first meeting, eight service users attended. Although this was a good number as it allowed people to get to know each other and spend time speaking to everyone in the group, we had facilities to accommodate 20 people comfortably and were a little disappointed at the low turn out. The members of the group have differing levels of learning difficulties and are a mixture of both men and women.
When a group is being set up, if possible a perfect equilibrium, is one that is standardised enough to ensure solidity and assorted enough to ensure validity”. (Coulshed and Orme, 2006) The venue for the sessions is a recreation centre within the Tameside area, it was important when finding a suitable accommodation, that it be wheelchair accessible and have appropriate disabled toilets, to accommodate people with physical disabilities. As we asked members to contribute to the cost of room hire, it was also imperative that we found a venue at a reasonable price.Four main stages of group development have been identified as playing a part in groups, these are forming, storming, norming, and performing (Tuckman and Jenson, 1977) and I will discuss these in relation to the group work I undertook.
The initial session involved the group meeting each other for the first time, to begin with the members seemed hesitant about what would take place at the sessions and what was expected of them. Tuckman identified this stage as the forming stage, this phase is characterised by anxiety from the participants.At this point, individuals are gathering information and impressions about each other, and about the scope of the task and how to approach it. (Tuckman and Jenson, 1977).
With this in mind, I introduced myself to the group, illuminating that I was a student social worker on placement and that I would only be part of the group for a month. I explained that I would be facilitating the group and organising various fitness activities. Also, along with the other group leaders, I would inform members about healthy lifestyle choices and give them tips on how to incorporate changes into their lives.The first activity was a warm-up using a parachute, which everybody had the chance to participate in.
The game involved each person holding a part of the parachute, then as a team, we would move the parachute in different directions. Two members decided not to join in at the start of the game, preferring to sit and watch. As the warm-up proceeded one member of the group became very bossy, ordering the other group members to hold the parachute in different ways, some of the participants stayed quiet and one decided to ignore the rules of the game and sat on the floor.According to Tuckman and Jenson (1977) this is known as the storming stage; decisions don’t come easily within the group, members vie for position as they attempt to establish themselves in relation to other team members and the leader.
Clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist. Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles. The team needs to be focused on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationships and emotional issues. Compromises may be required to enable progress.
Aware of this, we moved on to the main activities, which involved a selection of games, including, tennis, curling and boccia and hockey. Having a selection of activities ensured that there would be something that everybody enjoyed. Once the main activities were up and running, this saw the group appearing as unified, working as a team and sharing equipment. This is known as the norming stage, whereas, agreement and consensus is largely formed among the group, they respond well to facilitation by leader and roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted.
As more time was spent doing the activities, it became apparent that boccia was the most popular game, it is accessible for both people with a physical disability and those that are able-bodied. A white jack is thrown and the game involves getting your balls as close to the jack as possible. After about 20 minutes, the whole group were playing boccia and taking it in turns to have their go. The members were laughing and there was a definite sense of team.
This is known as the performing stage of Tuckmans model, at this point the group knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing.There is a shared vision and the group is able to stand on its own feet with no interference or participation from the leader. Disagreements occur but now they are resolved within the group positively and emphasis is placed on working towards achieving the goal. The stages are not inevitably clear-cut; they are more a representation of tendencies which many groups veer towards.
Groups are often forming and changing, and each time that happens, they can move to a different Tuckman Stage. A group might be norming or performing, but a new member might force them back into storming.An experienced leader will be ready for this, and will help the group get back to performing as quickly as possible (Egolf, 2001) At the end of the first session, we spent time asking the group members what activities they enjoyed and if they had any suggestions for what they would like to do in future sessions. This was to ensure that subsequent group meetings stayed fun for members and that they felt involved with the organisation of the group.
Many of the participants offered ideas for future activities, ranging from walking to ball sports. One member was very keen to be part of the organisation of the group.It was important that I facilitated discussions on a level that all members could understand, ensuring that everybody was invited to participate, the aim being to support and empower the members, by adopting an anti-oppressive approach, enabling participants to take greater control and be actively involved in the decision making. On reflection, the first health and fitness session went well; members engaged enthusiastically in activities and spent time socialising with one another.
The overall evaluation from the participants of the first session was very favourable.
“Gender And Sexuality” By John Storey
The ‘gender and sexuality’ by John Storey, explores the significance of emergence of feminism in Western society. The advent of feminism, its belief system and philosophy have perpetually altered the gender roles in our society for the better. Over the centuries, women have struggled with their defined domestic roles in the society and have suffered an oppressed life.
Storey delves into the struggles of feminism as a movement to claim women’s natural and legal rights in society.Deliberate and conscious exclusion of women from cultural and societal norms has changed the ideologies of the modern world and its notions regarding history. Women have spent their lives challenging the interpretation and sexual hierarchy that prevails in the society. Feminism has diversified into a number of theory groups with their individual approach towards female subjugation.
Some of these feminist perspectives include radical, Marxist, liberal, socialist, psychoanalytic, existentialist and anti-racist.Storey analyses mass produced fantasies for women such as Romance novels, gothic books, book operas and women’s magazines that have further domesticated women’s role in the society. The four major mediums critically explored include popular film and cinema, romance novels, soap operas, women magazines. My perspective revolves around one particular medium, romance novels as well as the conflicts that I personally experience from the social practice of feminism.
Storey presents Tania Modleski’s perspective on mass produced fantasies indulged by women such as Harlequin Romances, gothic novels and Soap operas. She points out that women’s obsession with these particular mediums stems out from their general dissatisfaction with life. The roles that have been assigned to them and living by these roles have led them to an unhappy or frustrated reality and these mediums provide the escape route for these women. As Modleski states:’The contradictions in women’s lives are more responsible for the existence of harlequin than Harlequin are for the contradictions’.
120) I concur with Modleski’s perspective on these mass produced pleasures for women as a much desired and seeked escape from reality. I myself inadvertently came across Harlequin romances during high school. At 16, sneaking into my older sister’s room to read a romance novel was an exhilarating because it was like consuming the forbidden fruit. These novels not only presented sweet happy-ending fairy tales but also played a pivotal role in my education on the physical feature of love.
Sex is considered a very taboo topic in almost every household and there is no sex education in schools or colleges unlike US and Canada. These novels were my way of seeking answers to the ‘mysteries’ regarding physical love. And now more than two thousand novels later, the excitement has considerably ebbed away but the satisfaction of reading a redundant happy-ending fairy tale is still stronger than ever. The predictability of knowing a happy ending feeds to my emotional need for contentment and motivates me to pick up a similar book with a recurring tacky cover.
This satisfaction also comes from the diversion that they novels provide from the stresses in school and personal life. These books that are easy on the eyes and mind provide are my source of mental relaxation and a break from my course textbooks. In Storey’s chapter, Rosalind Coward reconnoitres women’s pleasure in popular culture. She discusses the remorse that women often experience when indulging into these pleasures and it becomes as a part of an endless cycle of guilt and pleasure for most women.
Guilt used to consume me when I started reading these novels because I felt I was learning something considered as sinful and forbidden in society as a cardinal rule. But now my feelings have averted to guilt for not reading more literary acclaimed books like The English Patient or not concentrating enough on my textbooks but wasting my time on these novels. The guilt as suggested by Coward is further embellished by people attitude towards the romance genre. I have personally received a fair share of eccentric glances while reading on the subway or picking novels at the public library.
Many people scoff at the associated intellectual and the saccharine characters but I praise romance writers such as Carole Mortimer, Nora Roberts and Penny Jordan for creating these fairy tale plots and providing women with much needed emotional and mental resort. On the other hand, I think romance novels tend to bait women to believe that the only secure path towards endless happiness is through social conventions that often romanticize male dominance through marriage and childbearing.They bolster the traditional role of men as breadwinners and protectors and reinforce women as the rulers of the home and moral role models. Reading feminism as a social practice and understanding the importance of feminism as a political movement and its role in our contemporary society is indeed a conflicting experience.
Radical feminist as defined by Storey will find male dominance at its pinnacle in South Asian countries like Pakistan. Understanding feminist perspective generates conflicts within personal thoughts and beliefs because of the contradictions between the prevalent culture and religion.A culture that endorses male dominance in almost every aspect of life. Pakistani culture indoctrinates women to be subjected to all sort of oppression from emotional silencing to extreme physical abuse.
Man is the uncontested ruler inside and outside the house and women are raised to abide by men as religiously as possible. Consequences of opposing the accepted norms in various parts of the country are extreme i. e. lynching, gang rape and honor killing.
At the age of 9, a ‘wise’ man used to visit our home on regular basis to impart his ‘wisdom’ onto the lesser mortals like us and on one of these visits, he looks deeply into my eyes and then at my palm and in a very stern voice advices my parents and paternal grandmother that ‘this child (me) needs to be controlled, guard her for her streak of independence will be a threat to the honor of this house’. Experiences like these ones do not contest rising against the patriarchal system and its supporters but embeds these beliefs well into young minds.Male scholars of Islam have irrevocably interpreted the teachings of Quran to establish male dominance into the society. Women are considered as mere objects and are forcibly segregated from many aspects of life such as religious practices, higher education and employment.
For instance, women are not allowed to pray Salat1 in front or along side men and it is considered atrocious to raise voice higher then the men. On the other hand, Islamic values if directly interpreted from the holy book Quran, present a contradictory perspective and many feminist will assent with these values.For instance, in the eyes of Allah, men and women are equal. The Quran says: ‘And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women’.
(2:226) During Hajj2, men and women pray side by side in the house of Allah unlike its unacceptability within the culture. Unlike other religions, which regarded women as being possessed of inherent sin and wickedness and men as being possessed of inherent virtue and nobility, Islam regards men and women as being of the same essence created from a single soul. With the advent of Islam, women were no longer considered as mere chattels, but as an integral part of society.For the first time women were given the right to have a share in inheritance.
In the new social climate, women rediscovered themselves and became highly active members of society rendering useful service even during the wars. It became a common sight to see women helping their husbands, carrying on trade and business independently, and going out of their homes to satisfy their needs. In Islam wife is fully entitled to initiate or pronounce divorce though the procedure is different from that of her husband.I believe that women’s desire for equality and acceptance in every part of society is well represented in Islamic values.
Sadly, it is the dominant culture that has embedded its ideals into the society and made it intricate for women to live by feminist values. Storey critically examines the patriarchal values in popular culture that have relentlessly challenged the demands of feminism as a political and social movement. He discusses the consumption of popular cultural such as watching soap operas and reading women magazines that have further domesticated women’s role in society.Feminism as a social, political and cultural practice had a wide impact on societal norms and has succeeded in overcoming many challenges of acceptance in every segment of life.
1 Salat is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. 2 The annual pilgrimage to Makkah – the Hajj – is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. About two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe.
Working In Organisations
The aim of this assignment is to examine the concept of multidisciplinary working in relation to a practice experience. This will be achieved with reference to the multidisciplinary assessment of an older person using the single assessment process.
The assignment will discuss multidisciplinary working in the context of teams, networks and organisations. It will further address both inter-agency and inter-professional working. Finally it will examine ways in which discrimination and oppression can occur within teams and organisations.Weinstein et al.
(2004) have said of the term multi, “The term ‘multi’ tends to be used where agencies, professionals and team members work in parallel, maintaining distinctive organisational, intellectual and professional boundaries” (p.16). Multi disciplinary working in the context of my practice therefore involves working alongside other professional from health and social care organisations.The diverse nature of professionals involved in multidisciplinary working is precisely its strength.
Valuing diversity and working positively with other professionals is an important part of practice in social work. This is recognised in The General Social Care Council Codes of Practice (2002) standard 6: 6.7. Multidisciplinary working should take a person centred, holistic approach.
Work towards empowerment through effective partnership and collaborative practice amongst professionals should complement the partnership created between professionals and individual service users.Multidisciplinary working has much to commend it, as it provides an arena for sharing responsibility and allowing workers and service users to benefit from the viewpoint and expertise of people from other disciplines.(Thompson and Thompson, 2007, p.45)The practice experience which I will refer to involved the multidisciplinary assessment of a 72 year old Asian female and Urdu speaker.
I work in a sensory disability team and had received her referral through receipt of her Certificate of Visual Impairment from the local hospital. Following my own specialist assessment of need I had identified several needs which would require further specialistassessment and with the consent of the service user made referrals to the appropriate services. “The care manager is the person who facilitates and co-ordinates a multidisciplinary assessment” (Coulshed and Orme, 2006, p.49).
The National service framework for older people (DOH, 2001a) identifies that systems should be in place which promote working between professionals in the assessment of older peoples needs. The single assessment process is defined in Standard 2 of the National service framework for older people. It requires that agencies and professionals work together at all levels to ensure the effective and co-ordinated assessment of needs.It is important, therefore, that as professional social workers we recognise not only the value of our own contribution to the multidisciplinary arena, but the value of the skills and knowledge that other professionals bring.
(Crawford and Walker, 2007, p.144)In referring to other disciplines the aim was to create a co-ordinated network of professionals working collaboratively to assess need across professional, team and organisational boundaries. A referral was made to a Visual Impairment Rehabilitation Officer, a different professional working within the same team. A referral to Occupational Therapy crossed team boundaries, but remained within the same agency.
A referral to Physiotherapy crossed both team and organisational boundaries.Assessment of need is a clear area where multidisciplinary working can be beneficial to a service user (Leathard, 2005, p.101). Within my own team I was able to liaise on a daily basis with the rehabilitation officer on the assessment and their professional opinion and recommendations.
Within the agency I was able to check on the progress of the referral to Occupational Therapy through compatible technology. When a worker had been allocated and began to assess I was able to liaise directly with them in assessment and work in a complementary fashion. In crossing organisational boundaries I began to encounter barriers to and within multidisciplinary working.”Professionals are naturally concerned with their relationship with service users and with one another, yet organisations frame much of what takes place in those relationships” (Weinstein et al, 2004, p.
16).I continued to monitor the progress of the referral to the physiotherapy team. I discovered that an appointment letter had been sent out to the service user in English but as no one has answered the door on the appointed day the case had been closed. The physiotherapist explained that the team operated this system in accordance with organisational policy.
I challenged this decision on the grounds that the policy operated was discriminatory and the information that the team had sent to the service user was inaccessible for her. I was required to re-refer the individual who was again placed on a waiting list for assessment.The situation highlighted the tension between organisational aims and resources. An organisation will be required to look outward and work with other organisations, but will simultaneously be required to look inwards towards financial resources.
This may particularly be the case where organisations have performance targets to meet (Harrison et al, 2003, p.29). “Effective multidisciplinary work must be premised on a clear understanding and appreciation of the roles and pressures of other professionals” (Thompson, 2005, p.165).
Assessment and liaison between professionals was able to take place and the aim of maintaining the independence of the service user within the home was agreed. The experience highlighted the importance of effective communication. “Make sure that you consult with the relevant people when forming your view of the situation – work together on assessing the situation as far as possible” (Thompson, 2005, p.140).
It also highlighted the importance of effective key working and co-ordination when working across professional boundaries (Crawford and Walker, 2007, p.151).When assessment did take place barriers included a difference of opinion between the physiotherapist and occupational therapist. “Professionals must share information, clarify their respective roles, and overcome barriers caused by differences in status, training, values, organisational culture and defensiveness” (Weinstein et el, 2004, p.
78). I was also required to challenge the oppressive work of the physiotherapy team who again failed to take account of the service users language needs when assessing. A full multidisciplinary assessment is not yet complete as a bathing assessment still needs to be carried out, dependent on repairs to the individual’s home.In conclusion, though experiencing significant barriers to multidisciplinary assessment, clear benefits for the service user are also apparent.
The interdependent relationship of all professionals, teams and organisations involved in the assessment of an individual is crucial to the success of meeting need. The ability to reconcile organisational, team and professional differences is a crucial part of social work practice. It will allow the empowerment of the individual service user to remain at the centre of the multidisciplinary process and maximise their chance of independent living.