Assessments?

Life has a funny way of having patterns, last year my second blog was about assessments.  And again this year I am left thinking about the effect of assessments especially when they have been done badly.  


An assessment is being described “as the beginning of helping another person or family” and an “to aid the planning of future work together” (Taylor and Devine, 1993)  The “Assessment is the process of systematically gathering and analysing information about the client, family and context.” (Taylor and Devine, 1993)


So there is a clear focus of what assessments are and what the function of the assessment should be.  However, is it always this easy! the method of intervention is key, and the workers ability to gather and analyse the information is essential.  


The need to complete an accurate assessment is essential in order to safeguard and protect children.  Part of the assessment is about the context of the family, what am I observing? and what does this mean?  It is here where a worker needs to be confident and able to probe into the history of the parents to fully understand their parenting and own childhood.


And this is where I am glad that the issue of time-scales are being removed, because in some families the trust to disclose this information can take longer to earn.  Or there is a risk that the wrong conclusion could be reached.


This week I have met a family in crisis, left ripped apart from an assessment that had assessed them as abusive, neglectful and controlling.  The benefit of completing this assessment has not helped either the family or the young person.  The young person has now experience a double rejection and has no contact with their family.  


The danger is in the method of gathering information, when factual information is misunderstood.  Or leading questions have developed a picture you have created and closed questions have not adequately challenged the information you have been given.


For this family the trust in social care is destroyed, the relationship with their child is lost.  For those that complete assessments remember your aim and consider the models and tools that you are going to use to gather your information.  Remember to allow the family to tell their story and challenge inconsistency’s and probe.


There is no silly questions, and I remind the family that I do not live their life and I want to understand so need to know everything no matter how big or small.  It is also important to have a good team around you to be able to bounce thoughts off and check for gaps in the information you have to answer your questions.


I hope this time next year, I will not be looking back again on this subject.  However, I fear that unless more time can be found and given to complete better quality assessments I may be.









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One response

  1. Great post and have learnt a lot. Thank you. When I met a care assessment team recently they also mentioned that nowadays 90% of their time is spent at a computer and now actually doing 'social work'. Admin needs to be handled by admin staff, so these social workers can do the work that is most essential and be able to take The time to come to a full conclusion as suggested in your article

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