Throughout the 100 days of my Practice Learning Experience I have progressed in my learning by developing on my skills and knowledge. One of the areas where I needed to develop my knowledge and expertise was relationship building and communication skills. I worked on developing these skills through key-working and supporting service users. My case studies evidence this as I worked closely with both service users to support them, by assessing their needs, reviewing risks, policies and procedures that applies to them (National Occupational Standards 3. 2.)
The Social policy module helped me to understand how the laws and policies were applied to these cases such as the NHS and Community Care Act 1990. Case Study 1 was a unique case for me as although the service user did not have any mental health needs he required help with Alcohol Rehabilitation for which the trust holds the budget. I found this service user to be very difficult to engage with as he did see social workers as people who interfere and was very reserved with his information so gave me limited information regarding his background at the start of the process.
He also was presenting challenging behaviour and had a habit of swearing and lacked respect for women. I found him to be challenging overall and I pursued a different method of working with him whereby I made conversation and talked about other things not relating to his problem, to get to know him, I recognised anti-oppressive practice and took steps to break down the barriers and acted accordingly. It didn’t take too long to break the ice and engaged and have a laugh with him.
Although an incident took place whereby he had been drinking alcohol prior to meeting in which he became aggressive and threw hot coffee at both my supervisor, and myself he was very apologetic for weeks, after he realised what he did was wrong. I was extremely and taken back by his actions quite shocked, he made me feel frightened at the outburst but I remained calm and handled the situation in a firm appropriate way, by explaining to him this was unacceptable behaviour and it will not be tolerated and he was escorted of the premises.
Eventually he started to confine in me, as I was able to talk to him at his own level. He felt I was on his side and did care about his needs, he eventually felt able to trust me enough to talk about personal issue affecting him. I learnt a lot from this experience and in particular that staying calm and collected at all times is vital especially when people can be unpredictable. I learnt for the future to expect the unexpected and handle situations as they arise.
Also sometimes people in the system may not have mental health issues but when the organisation holds the funding it is responsible for actions of the clients. I have learnt being firm sometimes is necessary to set boundaries to achieve a positive relationship. I had to manage and assess complex ethical issues within the case studies as well as in my significant incident; this enable me to develop my own values as it made me aware that people with mental health issues often used alcohol as a way of coping with their symptoms.
( National Occupational Standards 20. 2) I devised strategies to deal with issues. My communication skills were developed from my learning of the Communication module. I used my knowledge in my direct observations ensuring I used eye contact, open body language, and non-verbal communication when interacting with service users. As a result I received positive feedback from the service user. In the course of my practice I was involved with co-facilitating in a group setting course of Anxiety Management for 6 weeks session.
I found this to be valuable experience to prepare, organise and facilitate information to service users in a way they understand and interact, However I found this to be difficult as this was an on-going course and the co-worker had been doing the session for a long time and had a set way of doing things, and was receptive to my new ideas. I found this to be frustrating, although I participated and provided additional information using my own research methods and giving examples of experiences and asking questions to engage a discussion from the group members.
Eventually I was able to work with individual service users who had problems engaging as a group. I was able to do one to one work to support them. (National Occupational Standards 8. 2) For the future group work sessions I think better co-operation and joint commitment at the planning stage would have made a difference for myself and co-worker to have an agreed plan in place, it would make the sessions more enjoyable for everyone to participate. Although the group was on going it sometime takes a fresh approach for service users to feel participated.