Tag Archives: paper

Gathering the data

Time is really running short now with just under four weeks left to gather my data and analysis what I have found in a meaningful way to write up in just 8000 words!

I have not been sitting in a blind panic since I last wrote about my research, and the danger of this project is that it is in addition to my day to day work.  The result is as can be expected that with the end of one financial year that I have had to complete the performance appraisals with the social workers that I supervise.  I have had to manage long term absence and balance the needs of the young people.  Which meant putting more pressure on the social workers who were in the office, and in turn give more support to ensure that they did not have their own meltdown’s and go off sick.

All in all a difficult time of the year with the social workers I supervise walking around in a mild panic about how I will review their year.  And along in my own head, I have all the thoughts about my own research that I jot down and stash away.

However, when planning my data gathering I was allowed to be convinced that recording the interview will allow me to capture more information and be more focused and approachable during the interview.  Great! that is exactly what I want more participation and therefore more honest answers to the questions I was going to ask.

What was I doing? this is a small piece of research for my post qualifying award in social work. Some people will know that when I sat down on saturday to type up the recordings that this was a painfully slow process.  What was one hour recording took up the better part of the whole day to stop – start play, pause and record.  Never mind the fear that I had that I might hit the delete button and lose the lot! Do not get me wrong it was so tempting and the delete button was the biggest button on my rather useful iPhone that I used to record the interview with.

Also the child in me was so tempted just to hit the big red button! 

And after six hours I was very tempted!

However, some sound advice was given to me – and the logic was like waking up fresh.  What was I looking for and what was the purpose? The recordings did not just give me an accurate understanding of the interview but a real chance to listen to what was being said.  Something, that I might have missed if I had just been reading the words.

Although verbal communication is a small part of how we communicate, the way the answer were delivered gave an added extra meaning that could have been lost if I had written it down.

So what was I looking for? what were the patterns and themes that were being discussed and shared with me.  After playing the interviews through several times these started to jump out of the sounds and in to defined groups.

So with my recordings made easier, I was given the next bit of advice, remember to keep a few sentences for quotes to be used in the research project.  Simple advice that may appear obvious, unless you have just spent a long time breaking your back painfully making accurate transcripts of your interview.  I would recommend if you choose to do this to ensure you have plenty of coffee and a comfortable chair.

I still have one interview to gain and then I will be able to start meaningfully writing up my research project.  What I have learnt so far has been incredible about the amount of preparation needed and why your methodology is so important.

I will continue and hope that others will want to do this.  Do not be put off and the learning from exploring a subject you enjoy enhances your social work practise and also provides a better service for the people you are working with.

No new Mail!

One useful tool Social Workers have, is knowledge and information. Being able to access information to aid assessments quickly helps to develop and maintain relationships. Whilst also making these assessment more accurate and essential to the families it involves.  

The note book and pen is a useful tool, it allows thoughts to be noted and reflected upon.  Its a tool that can be given to a child to help them express what they want to say.  It does have its weakness that in our changing world of social work that with office space shrinking and storage space non existing.  Keeping notes and finding them again is becoming difficult, with pressure mounting for them to be added to our computer systems, quickly.

I had been quite lucky with a 3G laptop and being able to access our systems where ever I might be.  It enabled me to be able to retain knowledge that with everything else would have been to to much to manage.  It meant that instead of delay I was able to get information and send information without having to go back into the office first.  It not only helped me but the agencies that I was working with, and promoted working relationships.  

This may not sound like modern technology, but for me and my practise this was a useful tool in getting information quicker.  It enabled me to be a more mobile working social worker and saved me time especially if I had to go out of county for a visit or if I had to sit in court all day waiting for an hours direction hearing.  As we waited for this to be trialled within the service, the spirit of the trial was lost.  Instead mobile working became flexible working from home and now the contract has finished so has my mobile working.

Being able to access your e-mails and respond to them is an important part of a social workers job.  But being able to access the child’s electronic file is also important, and would help practitioners to double check information and make decisions and risk assessments faster.  

Computer programmes has been previously developed to enable young people to share their views for Looked After Children’s Reviews.  An idea that recently seems to have disappeared where I am.  However, with smartphones and apps there is a chance for further development in this area of engagement.  Not just with Social Work, buts Schools and maybe CAMHS to.

I have had no information as to why this was stopped or whether any thought had been given to this.  Instead I found one e-mail saying we maybe be allocated Blackberries! this may mean I am losing my hot desk or it may mean I have to learn a new password.  I also hope that Social Work loses its fear of technology and learns how to communicate through this medium to safeguard the vulnerable people we work with.