Brothers of Charity
Southern Services


Southern Services - Social Work

Social Work recognises the need to be ever responsive to the needs of our service users and the organisation in a backdrop of societal change unparalleled in our history. The new post-modern dispensation requires maximum flexibility and therefore it follows that not only should we register where our discipline is currently located but acknowledge that reflexivity or constant self-examination is vital to continuing growth. This dialectic between the organisation, its component parts – in this case Social Work – serves to promote continuing effective change and responsiveness. In consequence Social Work warmly embraces statements contained in the Brothers of Charity ethos document 'Going Forward Together' (2001) such as "……..a learning organisation open to evolving ideas in service development…… our structures serve our fundamental objective and are progressive and flexible …….the development of these structures is an ongoing process [which] takes time continuous learning ……we expect our future structures to evolve in ways which we currently do not envisage. Even the existing structures have to be set aside at times in order to give an appropriate response to individuals in need"

The value system in which the Social Worker within the Brothers of Charity (Southern Services) operates gives a clear sense of the vitality and continuity of this service, it includes:-

  • Involvement of family in ensuring quality services
  • Developing clear accountability to the service users
  • A constant renewal of focus on rights
  • Promoting Advocacy in all its forms
  • Promoting Personal Development
  • Promoting and supporting Relationships
  • Creating structures based on participation, partnership and choice

    These principles are consistent with the defining characteristics of the Brothers of Charity Ethos document (Going Forward Together – 2001)

    The Brothers of Charity Services provide a team-led service aimed at the empowerment of service users their families and those working with them.

    The Brothers of Charity Southern Services promotes leadership, which embraces the following:

  • A vision and ethos of a relationship-based model of service – where the achievement and development of these relationships is a core value.
  • Team -building ethos
  • Delegation
  • Active listening
  • Ability to motivate and challenge
  • Ability to handle conflict

    Social Work values and principles are in harmony with the ethos of Brothers of Charity, which puts the service users in the centre of the service equation. The synergy between the leadership/structures approach and social work ethos is that we are describing a bottom up (Social Model) approach to planning and service delivery. (In the past, a top down approach was engaged, which tended to be expert led and placed the service user in a passive role where plans are made without necessarily consulting the service user. In that system, the Social Work role was that of a Medical Social Worker, locating itself in what was often referred to as a medical model of disability.)

    Models of Social Work Practice

    After more than a century of debate and practice it would seem that modern Social Work practice can be divided in to three inter-dependent modalities – i.e.:

    a. Therapeutic helping approaches.
    b. Maintenance approaches.
    c. Advocacy approaches.

    a.    Therapeutic Approaches to Social Work – are best exemplified by counselling theories, of which Carol Roger's work stands paramount. In these the Service User is assisted by the counsellor to better understand him/herself and his/her relationships with others, particularly close relatives and friends and to move on to a more effective way of dealing with their situation. Therapeutic approaches focus on individuals and their psychological functioning as the basis of intervention. This is not to say that the Social Worker operates as a counsellor per se but that the Social Worker uses this approach as part of her/his repertoire.
    b.    The Maintenance Approach argues that the Social Workers main preoccupation is that of ensuring that people can cope or deal adequately with their lives. The role is much more pragmatic – usually passing on information about resources and possibilities. The Maintenance Approach relies on the expert practitioner adopting a largely neutral attitude towards service users. Engaging in political issues, particularly those, which challenge the existing social order, falls outside the remit of the 'maintenance' practitioner, who views society or the organisation in which they are located as being basically benign.
    c.    The Advocacy or Emancipatory Approach to Social Work has an explicit commitment to social justice. The aim is to empower those with whom they work by helping them to understand their situation, make connections between their personal rights and that of others, examine power relations and their impact on the specifics of their daily routines and acquire the knowledge and skills for taking control of their lives. Many of these activities draw on the consciousness-raising techniques advocated by Paolo Freire (Seminal Social Work Theorist). The theme of Social Justice has provided a thread of historical continuity running through Social Work Practice.
    (Adams, Dominelli, Payne, "Social Work, Themes issues and Critical Debates, Pergamon, London, 1998 p.3)

    It cannot be stressed strongly enough however that the competent modern practitioner is required above all to apply an integrated, syncretic approach to his/her practice.

    Different Contexts Within Brothers Of Charity

    Social Work is a context-related activity and the recognition of the context is always significant or central to Social Work practice. In order to work to the context, each Social Worker needs to know and understand the role and function of the different specific Service Contexts, so as to deliver an effective Social Work Service within the existing services provision Social Workers operate out of three specific contexts.

    – Early Intervention
    – Special Education
    – Adult Services

    Social Work Training

    The attached outlines the five core areas of competence, which professional Social Workers must attain before being awarded the National Qualification in Social Work (NQSW).

  • Communication and Engagement
  • Assessment and Planning.
  • Intervention and Evaluation
  • Development of Professional Self.
  • Record Keeping and Report Writing.

    (National Social Work qualification Board Appendix 1. qv.)

    Professional Code of Ethics

    To guide Social Workers in their day to day professional practice the professional body, Irish Association of Social Workers have constructed a Code of Ethics which contain a Definition of Social Work – Values Statement and principles of Social Work Practice

  • Pursue Social Justice
  • Protect the human rights of all persons
  • Support all persons in attaining their optimum potential
  • Primary focus of Social Work is based on the needs of service users
  • Advocacy - It has a professional responsibility to empower individuals, groups and communities
  • To facilitate individuals to act on their own behalf in so far as possible.
  • Involve other professional and agencies in meeting service users needs. With due regard to the rights of others the Social Worker will work in partnership with service users in sharing information pertaining to any action on their behalf.

    The Head of Social Work Department
    Brothers of Charity (Southern Services)
    Co. Cork
    Phone (021) 4821012

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