• Roma children and young people in Bulgaria: patterns of risk and effective protection in relation to child sexual exploitation

      D'Arcy, Kate; Brodie, Isabelle; University of Bedfordshire (Cogitatio Press, 2015-07-07)
      This article examines patterns of risk regarding child sexual exploitation (CSE). There is specific focus on those living in alternative care, child sexual exploitation and trafficking among Roma communities in Bulgaria and the UK. Data is drawn from a desk-based literature review and partnership work with Bulgarian and British academics and practitioners to explore the issues in both countries. Although there is limited statistical data on CSE and children in care across Europe and the risk-factors for Roma children and young people are still not being fully recognised, we can draw on what is known in Bulgaria to inform practice in the UK with emerging Roma communities. Research on CSE more generally can also inform awareness of risk factors particularly around care systems. Comparative information about what is known in the UK and Bulgaria is considered in order to make some recommendations for international prevention, protection efforts, and prosecution strategies for the future.
    • Identifying and responding to alcohol misuse in memory clinics: current practice, barriers and facilitators

      Thake, Anna; Wadd, Sarah; Edwards, Kim; Randall-James, James; University of Hertfordshire; University of Bedfordshire; South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Bedford CMHT for Older People (Emerald, 2015-05-18)
      Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore current practice, barriers and facilitators to identifying and responding to alcohol problems in memory clinics. Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire sent to professionals in 55 memory clinics in England, Wales and the Isle of Wight and two focus groups with professionals from three memory clinics in England. Findings – Only 1/35 clinics that responded to the questionnaire was using a standardised alcohol screening tool but all attempted to gain some information about alcohol use. Without screening tools, practitioners found it difficult to determine whether alcohol use was problematic. Barriers to identification/intervention included cognitive impairment, service-user being “on guard” during assessment, presence of family members/carers, time constraints and a perception that brief interventions were not within the remit of memory clinics. Facilitators were obtaining visual clues of problem drinking during home visits and collateral information from family members/carers. Research limitations/implications – Focus group participants were recruited through convenience sampling and a small number of professionals took part. This means that the findings may be subject to selection bias and limits the generalisability of the findings. Practical implications – Memory clinics should provide guidance and training for practitioners on how to intervene and respond to alcohol misuse. Further research is required to determine the most effective way to identify alcohol problems in people with cognitive impairment and how to deliver brief alcohol interventions that take account of cognitive deficits. Originality/value – This is the first study to examine alcohol screening and interventions in memory clinics and identifies a need for guidance, training and further research.
    • The importance of practice learning in social work: do we practice what we preach?

      Domakin, Alison (Taylor & Francis, 2015-04)
      This paper reports on themes identified from focus group discussions with practice educators, in which they articulated concerns about factors that limited their work with students on placement. Four key themes are identified from analysis of the data: (1) The absence of workload relief for agency based practice educators; (2) A lack of knowledge about the academic curriculum in qualifying social work programmes; (3) A sense of isolation from universities placing students with them; (4) Concerns about the quality of practice learning experiences they could provide to students. Expressions of guilt and anxiety were a prominent feature of the focus group discussions. Almost all the practice educators felt that their work in this role was not good enough. They were concerned about standards and missed opportunities to work developmentally with students who may be at risk of failing, or conversely to stimulate those who were more able. The findings suggest that universities should consider whether practice educators are sufficiently connected with other parts of the social work education system to fulfil their role.
    • Finding the right match: a survey of approved adopters’ experiences of agency support in the linking and matching process

      Dance, Cherilyn; University of Bedfordshire (University of Bedfordshire, 2015-03)
      This research study was commissioned by Adoption Link to explore approved adopters’ experiences of agency support in their search for a child or children who they felt able to parent. The impetus for the research came from Adoption Link’s awareness, as a result of contact with their users and posts on various adoption forums, of some level of dissatisfaction with the ways in which processes for linking and matching were operating for approved adopters. By way of setting the scene for the study findings, this introduction looks briefly at the policy background as it relates to linking and matching in adoption; the current situation, particularly in England, regarding the numbers and profiles of waiting children and approved adopters; provision of adoption agency services and how links and matches are achieved. It is important to note that much of what is covered in this introductory section applies to England only. While there is some shared legislation across the four countries of the UK , each implements elements of distinct legislation and policy in relation to looked after children and adoption and up to date statistics for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are rather difficult to come by. Although the policy context in different parts of the UK might be distinct, adoption practice in relation to children in care is similar. The focus here on England is in part pragmatic – because information about the situation in England is easily available and in the public domain –it also reflects the fact that the majority of responses to the survey reported were from adopters in England and space precludes a detailed discussion of the similarities and differences between countries.
    • The recruitment, assessment, support and supervision of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender foster carers: an international literature review

      Cosis-Brown, Helen; Sebba, Judy; Luke, Nikki (University of Oxford, 2015-02)
      Electronic databases and websites covering the international literature were used to identify 20 published papers (covering 19 studies). Those identified were from the UK, USA and Australia. Comparisons across countries are subject to limitations of different cultures and services. Most of the research exclusively about LGBT foster care, rather than research that merges fostering and adoption, has developed in Australia where, in contrast to the USA and UK, adoption is rarely the chosen option for permanence for children in public care. Studies identified for the review were published since 1996 and were all written in English. Most of the studies focused exclusively on the perceptions of established foster carers’, less often on perceptions of social workers and one included young people’s perceptions. The studies used a range of methodologies from in-depth interviews and focus groups to larger scale surveys using questionnaires. Study samples ranged from 1 to nearly 400. No studies were identified in the review that included interventions subjected to evaluation using comparison or control groups. Most studies adopted a retrospective design, seeking the perspectives of established carers.
    • Child maltreatment: how can friends contribute to safety?

      Allnock, Debra; University of Bedfordshire (Emerald, 2015-01-12)
      Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of a study of support received by 60 young adults who experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse and neglect in childhood. It is focussed on the support provided by friends in particular, and draws out relevant learning for child sexual exploitation (CSE). Design/methodology/approach – In all, 60 young people completed a questionnaire, complemented by a two hour follow-up interview to explore experiences of formal and informal support in disclosing abuse. In total, 13 young people were recruited on the basis of their prior participation in a larger, associated study of child abuse and neglect, with the remainder recruited via open invitation. Findings – There is rich information in the interviews about the ways that friends provided support to participants. Friends provided practical, moral and emotional support. They intervened to keep their friends safe. They offered emotional “escape” and a conduit to adults who could help keep them safe. Importantly, friends recognised that participants were in distress even when they did not know the participants were being abused. Practical implications – The results highlight that friends have a crucial role to play in helping children to keep safe and to feel safe, provided that they are equipped with information and knowledge of how to respond and where to seek help. Originality/value – The paper is original in considering the role of friends within a community safety framework. In addition, the study sample is larger than other studies of its kind, and considers a wider variety of child maltreatment experiences than previous studies, making clear links to CSE.
    • Community awareness raising on child sexual exploitation: possibilities and problems

      Dhaliwal, Sukhwant; D'Arcy, Kate; Thomas, Roma; University of Bedfordshire (Emerald, 2015-01-12)
      Purpose – A number of reports on child sexual exploitation (CSE) have pointed to the importance of community awareness raising as a preventative measure, a means of extending the reach of CSE services and widening the scope of social responsibility to protect children. However, little has been said about how to undertake such activities; how to do this well and the potential pitfalls to avoid. The purpose of this paper is to draw out critical questions about the notion of community and highlight what can be learnt from historical debates about multiculturalist practice. While the paper does not focus solely on ethnic minority communities, the authors do take stock of pertinent points from that literature in relation to issues of engagement, power and representation and applicable learning for awareness raising around CSE. In the second half of the paper, the authors consider the issue of awareness raising within communities. The authors draw on the limited literature on community awareness raising in CSE, contextualising this with reference to relevant learning from other pertinent bodies of work, to reflect on implications for practice. Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual paper based on a review of various bodies of literature. The first half reviews the literature about community, community engagement, and multiculturalism as policy and practice. The second half draws evidence from the literature on forms of awareness raising on CSE and other sensitive social issues to discuss implications for practice arising from the authors’ reflections on the literature. Findings – The review produces three key findings. First, the need to transfer historic insights into the limits of “community” and multiculturalism and apply these to the emergent field of CSE. Second, despite theoretical distinctions between “community” and “society”, evidence from the literature suggests that the term “community” is being applied more generally to refer to a wide range of events and practices. Third, the authors conclude with some points about what may work well for CSE professionals developing work in this field; that is, clear aims and objectives, nuanced approaches and targeted messages. Research limitations/implications – This is an under-researched area where there are currently no published evaluations of community awareness raising interventions for CSE. Effective evidence-based strategies for engaging communities are urgently needed for CSE prevention work to be extended in positive ways which protect those affected. Originality/value – This paper is original in drawing insights from historical debates about multiculturalist practice to inform thinking on community awareness raising on CSE. It makes a valuable contribution by bringing together insights from a number of distinct bodies of literature in ways which can inform practice.
    • Women Against Fundamentalism: stories of dissent and solidarity

      Dhaliwal, Sukhwant; Yuval-Davis, Nira (Lawrence and Wishart, 2015)
    • Alcohol screening in people with cognitive impairment: an exploratory study

      Randall-James, James; Wadd, Sarah; Edwards, Kim; Thake, Anna (Taylor & Francis, 2014-12)
      Objective: Alcohol misuse can coexist with and/or contribute to the development of cognitive impairment in the older adult population but continues to be underestimated and undetected in older people. This study aimed to examine the feasibility and acceptability of routine screening for alcohol misuse in a small sample of older people with cognitive impairment receiving services in memory clinics. Methods: This study employed a qualitative and exploratory design, using a convenience sample of individuals attending a memory clinic in England. Ten service users older than 65 with a diagnosis of cognitive impairment (i.e., mild cognitive impairment or dementia) took part in the study. Individuals who met inclusion criteria were invited to take part in an hour-long interview, which included the interviewer administering the alcohol screening tools. Interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Participants were able to engage with the screening tools and could, with assistance, complete them in a collaborative and timely manner without distress. All participants reported that these tools were acceptable as part of the clinic assessment. Administering the screening tools was not time-consuming or difficult, making their use feasible within the memory clinic setting. While there were some challenges (e.g., arithmetic, recall, language problems), these challenges could be overcome with the aid of the person administering the screening tool using standardized techniques for assessment administration. Conclusions: Routine screening for alcohol misuse in older people with cognitive impairment receiving services in memory clinics is feasible and acceptable. The process of completing alcohol screening tools with older adults receiving services at memory clinics may increase awareness of the potential impact of alcohol on cognitive functioning and provide practitioners with an opportunity to educate service users about the ways that their drinking is affecting their memory. Several techniques to facilitate completion of screening tools were identified. Future research should evaluate the reliability and validity of alcohol screening tools with older people through corroborating screening results with other assessment methods.
    • Learning from the research process: discussing sensitive topics as a cultural outsider

      Manders, Gary; Galvani, Sarah (Taylor & Francis, 2014-11-19)
      This paper explores the sensitivities and cultural complexities of engaging in research about substance use with a Sikh Punjabi community in England, from the perspective of cultural outsiders. The objective of the research was to explore the feasibility of developing a Community Alcohol Support Package (CASP) within the community, where existing alcohol service provision was felt to be limited, using ethnographic research methods. Tensions between a strict religious prohibition against drinking and a cultural acceptance of a heavy drinking culture created the conditions for the research and its particular challenges. This paper reports on the process of conducting the research and the transferable lessons for social work teaching and practice. Two key methodological challenges are highlighted together with reflections on how they were addressed: first, the problem of engagement and negotiating access to the community in focus; second, the challenge for outsiders of tuning into the socio-political context of the community and the power dynamics within it. Overcoming these challenges required high levels of sensitivity to the concerns of the community, while maintaining research integrity, and demonstrable openness and honesty in the course of developing research relationships. The lessons for social work education and practice are discussed.
    • The role of the supervising social worker in foster care: an international literature review

      Cosis-Brown, Helen; Sebba, Judy; Luke, Nikki (University of Oxford, 2014-09)
      Foster carers play a central role in providing family based care for foster children. Enabling, developing, and supporting foster carers to care for foster children in a way that provides security, stability, love and a strong sense of identity and belonging involves foster carers themselves being professionally supported, both emotionally and practically. This literature review focuses on ‘social work support’, and more particularly the role of the supervising social worker in providing that support and supervision. The discrete role of what we are refer to for the purposes of this literature review as the ‘supervising social worker’ (known by many others terms across the world), to provide supervision and support to foster carers, is a relatively recent development. Alongside the professionalisation of foster care, there have been changing views of the relationships and duties of supervising social workers and the introduction of criteria for supervision and inspection of fostering services. The expectations of the supervising social work role are set out in Standard 21 of the Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards in England (Department for Education, 2011). The supervising social worker acts as the conduit between the fostering household and the fostering service, and is distinct from the role of the foster child’s social worker. The role of the supervisory social worker is complex since it encompasses both the support and supervisory aspects of work done with the foster carer. For example, if a child protection matter is raised by a foster child’s social worker, then the supervisory nature of the relationship between the foster carer and their supervising social worker becomes more prominent whereas when a foster carer experiences a family bereavement, the support relationship may take over. Foster carers report consistently that this relationship is very important to them and it has been shown to be a factor in the recruitment (in terms of the beliefs of potential carers about what support will be available) and retention of carers (Sebba, 2012). It is therefore of interest that the supervising social worker role has attracted little research or scholarly attention, perhaps because of the lack of well-developed models of supervising social work. This review of the international research addresses the topic of the role of the supervising social worker. Foster care is considered in its broadest terms, including family and friends (kinship) foster care. The review was undertaken in order to consider the following three questions: What do supervising social workers do, and what are the components of supervision and support they offer foster carers? What contributes to effective supervision by social workers of foster carers? Does the quality and/or quantity of support and supervision offered to foster carers by supervising social workers impact on: outcomes for foster children; stability of placements; retention of foster carers? Electronic databases and websites were used to identify 22 studies (24 related papers) from the UK, US, Canada and Australia. Comparisons across countries are subject to limitations of different cultures and services. Studies identified for the review were published since 1996 and were all in English. Fourteen of the 22 studies focused exclusively on foster carers’ perceptions, the others focusing on social workers, caseworkers, foster family resource workers, fostering service managers and in one study young people, usually in addition to foster carers. The studies used a range of methodologies from in-depth interviews and focus groups to larger scale surveys using questionnaires. Study samples ranged from 7 to nearly 2000 with only five studies reporting on data from samples of fewer than 30 participants. No studies were identified in the review that included interventions subjected to evaluation using comparison or control groups. Most studies adopted a retrospective design.
    • Employment-based training on alcohol and other drugs in England: bridging the gap

      Allnock, Debra; Hutchinson, Aisha (Taylor & Francis, 2014-06-19)
      The first of its kind in England, this study explored the extent and nature of employer-based training on alcohol and other drugs for social workers working in children's and adults' services. A national survey of workforce development departments was undertaken to find out how social workers are being prepared by their employers for engaging with people who use alcohol and other drugs. Based on a response rate of 46%, the findings show that a majority of departments (82%) provided training on these issues in the year 2011–2012. However, most of this training was not mandatory. These courses are targeted most often at those working in children's services rather than those in adults' services. Most courses are offered at basic or intermediary level, and content of training is covered inconsistently. These findings suggest a need to increase the priority of alcohol and other drugs' training across adults' services in particular and to make this training mandatory, as well as ensuring that staff have adequate time and incentive to attend. Effectiveness of social care practice for all social care practitioners around alcohol and other drugs use could be improved with more focus on training practitioners how to talk to service users about their substance use.
    • The extent and nature of practitioners, encounters with alcohol and other drug use in social work and social care practice

      Dance, Cherilyn; Galvani, Sarah; Hutchinson, Aisha; University of Bedfordshire (Taylor and Francis, 2014-06-18)
      This article considers the extent and nature of social work and social care practitioners' experience of working with service users whose lives are affected by the problematic use of alcohol or other drugs (AOD). It draws on the findings of a national study of ‘working with alcohol and drug use’ which was conducted in England in 2010–2011. The study reported here comprised an online survey of front-line practitioners (n = 597), complemented by 12 practitioner focus groups and interviews with 21 key informants from participating local authorities and substance use treatment services. This paper focuses primarily on data from one element of the survey. Findings indicate that the great majority of staff encountered service users who are affected by AOD problems at some level, although there were differences between groups of practitioners in the extent and nature of AOD problems for different groups of service users. The differential experiences of staff according to their client groups underlines the need for education and professional development not only to provide training on working with AOD but to ensure that training is contextualised and relevant to practitioners across the range of social work and social care services.
    • Substance use and disabilities: experiences of adults' social care professionals and the implications for education and training

      Dance, Cherilyn; Galvani, Sarah; University of Bedfordshire (Taylor and Francis, 2014-06-18)
      This paper draws on data from a national survey of social workers and social care practitioners in England undertaken in 2010–2011. It focuses on practitioners working in services for adults with either learning or physical disabilities and, in particular, their experiences of responding to alcohol and other drug use among their service users. Based on secondary analysis of survey and focus group data from the earlier study, the paper outlines the extent to which workers in these areas of practice encounter alcohol and drug problems and discusses the key challenges this poses for them. The findings show that between 4% and 10% of adults' practitioners' service users have alcohol and drug problems depending on the nature of the disability. Regardless of the type of disability, practitioners reported difficulties in talking about substance use with their service users as well as identifying tensions around life-style choice and risk management. They also reported the need for education and training in a number of areas. Social work education and subsequent training in working with substance use problems needs to be available to adults' practitioners and it needs to address the specific issues and needs in different areas of social work practice.
    • The nature and extent of substance use education in qualifying social work programmes in England

      Galvani, Sarah; Allnock, Debra; University of Bedfordshire (Taylor and Francis, 2014-06-18)
      Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use is a common feature of modern social work practice. Concerns about the problematic use of such substances cross all areas of social work practice, including adults' and children's social care. In England, surveys have highlighted social workers' experiences of AOD education during their qualifying social work training. However, this study sought the perspectives of the social work educators. Its primary aim was to explore the nature and extent of education on AODs on the qualifying social work programmes in England. Using an online survey tool, all qualifying social work programme leads were invited to take part (n = 157). Fewer than half responded (40%, n = 63). Initial findings appeared positive suggesting that 94% of responding qualifying programmes provided some teaching and learning on AODs. Further analysis revealed significant variation in what is taught and the depth of coverage. It highlighted a lack of consistency across programmes and possible over-reporting. However, the majority of respondents felt that teaching and learning on AOD use should be a higher priority for their qualifying social work programmes.
    • Implementing rigorous survey methodology within contexts of social work education, training and practice: a case study in substance use

      Hutchinson, Aisha; Allnock, Debra; University of Bedfordshire (Taylor and Francis, 2014-06-16)
      With the integration of evidence-based practice central to all areas of social work education and training across the globe, it is crucial that we continue to engage with the methodological challenges inherent in gathering this evidence, particularly when it is related to the nature of social work education itself. As a result, this paper addresses some of the methodological challenges involved in examining the education available to social workers on engaging with substance use, both within the social work academy and local authorities in England. Drawing on experiences of implementing large scale online surveys from three substantial research projects completed by the authors, this paper highlights four methodological themes: (1) Constructing a representative sampling frame; (2) Identifying participants within organisations with many departments; (3) Response rates; and (4) Questionnaire design. While these are familiar methodological considerations, this article draws attention to the specific complexities of gathering ‘representative’ knowledge to inform educational strategies on substance use within social work education and employment contexts. Finally this paper offers lessons learned and guidance for social work academics, students and practitioners who are minded to build, or draw from, an evidence-base using representative samples from and within these environments.
    • Working with older people with alcohol problems: insight from specialist substance misuse professionals and their service users

      Wadd, Sarah; Galvani, Sarah; University of Bedfordshire (Taylor and Francis, 2014-06-06)
      Significant numbers of older people worldwide have a drinking level or pattern which places them at risk of harm. In England, older people are more likely to be admitted to hospital for an alcohol-related condition than younger people and levels of alcohol-related harm are increasing fastest in this population. Whilst alcohol problems in older people are highly treatable, they frequently go undetected or ignored. The aim of this study was to develop guidelines for health and social care workers on what intervention strategies are likely to work best with older drinkers. Insight from alcohol practitioners who specialise in working with older people and the perspectives of older people receiving alcohol treatment were gained through focus groups and individual interviews. This paper reports some of the key findings including a perception that health and social care workers often did not intervene when alcohol misuse was suspected because of ageist attitudes and false beliefs about older people's drinking. Participants however acknowledged that social workers faced difficult choices in relation to the ‘right’ of older people with alcohol problems to continue to drink and the ‘risk’ associated with them doing so. The implications for social work education and training are discussed.
    • The development of employment-based education on substance use for social workers in England: embedding substance use training in frameworks of Continuing Professional Development

      Hutchinson, Aisha; Allnock, Debra; University of Bedfordshire (Taylor and Francis, 2014-06-04)
      Service users in the social care sector affected by substance use need a workforce which is skilled at protecting and supporting them, and who are able to carry out their roles and responsibilities with confidence. Workforce/Learning Development departments in children's and adults' services in England play an important role in preparing social workers to engage effectively with service users and to develop as practitioners. Drawing on data from a survey of 94 Workforce/Learning Development departments, this article examines the development of employment-based education on substance use. Only 33% of these departments had a dedicated training strategy or series of programmes on substance use, although more than half (59%) provided tools for identifying and assessing substance use. A wide range of professionals were involved in the development of this training, particularly those in specialist safeguarding and substance use roles. Social work and substance use textbooks are the main source of materials accessed to support training development. A lack of strategic engagement with substance use in social care was one of the barriers cited to adequate training provision. Implications for social work education include the importance of embedding AOD education in post-qualifying training frameworks at both university and employer levels.