Here is an abstract of an article written with colleagues from MMU (led by Prof Hugh McLlaughlin) about MARACs and Social Work
Summary This article focuses on adult social work’s response in England to high-risk domestic violence cases and the role of adult social workers in multi-agency risk and assessment conferences. The research was undertaken between 2013 and 2014 and focused on one city in England and involved the research team attending multi-agency risk and assessment conferences. Interviews with 20 adult social workers, 24 multi-agency risk and assessment conferences attendees, 14 adult service users at time T1 (including follow-up interviews after six months, T2), focus groups with independent domestic violence advocates and Women’s Aid and an interview with a Women’s Aid service user.
Findings The findings suggest that although adult social workers accept the need to be involved in domestic violence cases they are uncertain of what their role is and are confused with the need to operate a parallel domestic violence and adult safeguarding approach, which is further, complicated by issues of mental capacity. Multi-agency risk and assessment conferences are identified as overburdened, under-represented meetings staffed by committed managers. However, they are in danger of becoming managerial processes neglecting the service users they are meant to protect.
Applications The article argues for a re-engagement of adult social workers with domestic violence that has increasingly become over identified with child protection. It also raises the issue whether multi-agency risk and assessment conferences remain fit for purpose and whether they still represent the best possible response to multi-agency coordination and practice in domestic violence.
Within a global profession with a stated definition that includes “promoting social change and development, social cohesion and the empowerment and liberation of people”, it would be expected that the issue of domestic abuse would be integral to the training and role of all social workers. This article reports on research, which highlighted both a lack of understanding of the role of adult social worker within cases of domestic abuse and also a desire for further training around the issue. However, this article sets out how the current UK (in particular, English) context of social work marginalises the issue of domestic abuse within practice with adults. This marginalisation has been achieved through the construction of domestic abuse as a children and families issue and limited duties, powers and resources within statutory work to support victims/survivors in their own right, rather than as “failing” parents. However, the article argues that the role of social work education should be wider than teaching to the current policy or procedures and instead encourage a wider appreciation of the social, historical and political context. The article concludes with tentative suggestions for how domestic abuse could be considered within the social work curriculum for adult practitioners. This is in acknowledgement that social workers can be well positioned for the detection, investigation and support of those experiencing abuse.
Rachel Robbins, Concetta Banks, Hugh McLaughlin, Claire Bellamy & Debbie Thackray (2016): Is Domestic Abuse an Adult Social Work Issue?, Social Work Education, DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733
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Why I invited Professor Sara Ahmed to the Developing Social Justice Seminar Series
On 11 March 2015, I had the great pleasure of welcoming Sara Ahmed to MMU to discuss Racism as part of the social justice seminar series. I first came into contact with Sara’s work when writing my PhD. She led me to reflect on my time as a policy officer at a local authority. Armed with the McPherson Inquiry (1999) definition of institutional racism, I found a way of championing race equality issues. Continue reading →
This is an unusual entry for this blog. It is customary for me to write about fiction and make connections with social work and justice that the artist has highlighted for me. So, what can I learn from reading about actual social work? I picked up Olive Stevenson’s memoir because it was to be discussed at the Social Work Book Group, an endeavour that excites me and (with candour similar to Olive’s) of which I am slightly jealous. It is unlikely that I would have read it without that prompt. Continue reading →
If at any point anyone had ever asked for my opinions about the NHS I would have said it was the greatest achievement of UK democracy. However, in the last 12 months I have had more contact with it than I wanted and have had more personal reasons to be grateful for its formation. The passion I have now for the NHS is tinged with the awareness that there are close members of my family who might not be here without it and that when an emergency occurred, without any thought or concerns on my part, a tender, caring and efficient service was immediately at hand. There will be times when I am critical of the NHS, particularly when it strays into and then fails in the provision of social care, failing to see disability and old age as social problems rather than medical. However, that criticism is to seek to improve the institution and should never be used to support its demise. Continue reading →