• Breaking down language barriers: a practice-near study of social work using interpreters

      Westlake, David; Jones, Rebecca (Oxford University Press, 2017-08-16)
      This paper explores how social workers can communicate effectively using an interpreter. It examines how child and family practitioners describe their experiences of working with interpreters and uses audio recordings of home visits to analyse how the challenges they describe manifest in practice. The analysis is based on audio recordings of nineteen interpreter-mediated meetings between workers and families, and two focus groups with practitioners. Recordings were categorised using quantitative coding, and data were analysed thematically. Although workers find using an interpreter challenging, in practice, skilled practitioners are able to work effectively providing they adopt an assertive approach. This is characterised by clarifying misunderstandings, involving the client in ‘chit-chat’ to build rapport and, where clients have differing levels of language proficiency, conducting the conversation entirely in the native language. The study demonstrates the centrality of social worker skills in managing interpreter-mediated sessions and improving practice for non-native-speaking families. This has implications for social work practice internationally.
    • Calling time: addressing ageism and age discrimination in alcohol policy, practice and research

      Wadd, Sarah; Holley-Moore, George; Riaz, Amna; Jones, Rebecca; Drink Wise, Age Well; University of Bedfordshire; International Longevity Centre (Drink Wise, Age Well, 2017-12-04)
      This report reveals evidence of age discrimination in alcohol policy, practice and research.  The findings are based on a survey of professionals, interviews and focus groups with older adults with alcohol problems and a summative review of relevant policy and published literature.
    • Can we reliably measure social work communication skills? development of a scale to measure child and family social work direct practice

      Whittaker, Charlotte E.; Forrester, Donald; Killian, Mike; Jones, Rebecca (European Scientific Association on Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents, 2017-01-01)
      Few attempts have been made to define and measure the effectiveness of social work communication skills. This paper describes a coding scheme for rating seven dimensions of skilled communication in child and family social work practice and presents an empirical evaluation of whether the dimensions can be coded for reliably. Four dimensions of skill were adapted from the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity (MITI) code. A further three dimensions, primarily related to appropriate use of authority, were developed in consultation with key stakeholders. The seven dimensions were used to score 133 audio recordings of direct practice. Of these, 28 (21%) were scored by three independent raters in order to test inter-rater reliability (IRR). IRR was assessed using Krippendorff’s α and Intra-class correlation (ICC). Results indicate that it is possible to reliably measure key elements of skilled communication, with Krippendorff’s α scores ranging from .461 (good) to .937 (excellent) and ICC ranging from .731 (good) to .967 (excellent). Establishing reliability provides a foundation for exploring the validity of the measure and the relationship between these skills and outcomes, as well as for further research looking at the impact of training, supervision or other methods of professional development on skills in practice. The problems and potential contribution of using such an approach are discussed. 
    • Simulating supervision: how do managers respond to a crisis?

      Wilkins, David; Jones, Rebecca (Taylor & Francis, 2017-08-28)
      Supervision is fundamental to child and family social work practice, in England as elsewhere, yet there is little research regarding what managers and social workers do when they meet to discuss the families they are working with. Recent years have seen a growing interest in the use of simulated clients and Objective Structured Clinical Exams to help develop and evaluate the abilities of social workers and students. This paper describes a study of 30 simulated supervision sessions between English social work managers and an actor playing the role of a student social worker in need of support. The simulation concerns a referral regarding an incident of domestic abuse. During the simulations, managers typically asked closed questions to obtain more information before providing solutions for the supervisee in the form of advice and direction. There was little evidence of emotional support for the social worker, nor empathy with the family. Managers typically acted as expert problem-solvers. The implications of this are discussed in relation to current theoretical models of supervision for child and family social work and in relation to how Children’s Services responds to domestic abuse.