Applying the Principles of Social Care as a Level 4 Worker

In social care and social work many staff are starting to develop their skills and knowledge in respect of the Health and Social Care SVQ or NVQ level 4.

You may have recently been appointed to a management post in a social care service or you may have been a manager or assistant manager for some time, alternatively you could be on a field work team but are not yet social work qualified. In terms of your own professional development you are now, or will be working on your Health and Social Care SVQ or NVQ level 4.

As a level 4 candidate, you should be familiar with the principles of good care practice, having incorporated them into your everyday work. In your role as a level 4 worker you should be supporting others to incorporate the principles of good care into their everyday work.

Challenging

The Health and Social Care SVQ and NVQ standards refer regularly to candidates for the level 4 “challenging” others – for example where they observe poor practice etc. Sometimes people aren’t comfortable with this term – what exactly does “challenging” mean and how can you challenge effectively? This is a key aspect of a level 4 worker’s role – so it is worth exploring the skill as a key principle.

Wherever you come across a situation which you feel you want (or indeed, need) to challenge you should ask yourselves: Why? What? Who? How? and When?

Why challenge?

It is important to challenge poor practice, oppressive practice, etc. because we all have a commitment to promote good practice. Through challenging we are able to ask questions about practice which otherwise remain unasked. We can make positive changes and we can ensure others adopt a challenging approach.

What are you challenging?

Be clear about exactly what you are challenging. Listen, examine the issue, think about the context etc. Make the links with institutional oppression
and structural forces. Working in this way, we avoid making challenging personally threatening.

Who are you challenging?

Ask yourself about the person you are challenging. It is our view that we should never avoid challenging because of the individual, but clearly we will need to alter the focus and content of our challenge based on the understanding and experiences of the individual. Think about communication in terms of the individual you are challenging.

How are you going to challenge?

You should choose the right way of challenging. You need to put thought into this. As a starting point we suggest you consider the following:

Understanding

There could be a difference in what you understand and what the person you are challenging understands.

Values

There may be a difference between what is important to you and what is important to the person you are challenging.

Styles

There may well be a difference in the way you do things and the way the other person does things. That does not necessarily mean that the other person’s way of doing something is bad practice. Don’t just challenge because someone does things differently to you.

Opinions

There could be differences between what you think and what the person you are challenging thinks.

If you bear all of the above in mind, when deciding how to challenge, your approach is much more likely to be effective. In addition, we
believe that it is important to choose the least oppressive way of challenging someone.

When should you challenge?

This is very closely linked to thinking around the area of how to challenge. Is it appropriate to challenge at the time or later? Bear in mind that the longer you leave something the more distant and vague a person’s recall becomes. In general sooner rather than later is best.

Consequences of challenging

In addition to considering the questions we have outlined, it is also important to think about the consequences of any challenge both in terms of yourself and the person you are challenging.

As a level 4 worker any challenge should be assertive but also supportive of the professional development of the person you are challenging.

You may also need to think about the needs of the ‘victim’ of the poor practice, the oppression etc (ie: the victim of whatever you are challenging). Do you need to locate support systems? etc.

Potentially this can be complicated or even daunting. However the recent publication by Mark Shiner, Siobhan Maclean and Iain Maclean has already been seen as a major new resource for all staff working through their Health and Social Care SVQ or NVQ Level 4. The book covers all the mandatory (or core) units of the Health and Social Care SVQ and NVQ Level 4. At a cost of only £15 it is one of the most accessible books available.

Potentially this can be complicated or even daunting. However the recent publication by Mark Shiner, Siobhan Maclean and Iain Maclean has already been seen as a major new resource for all staff working through their Health and Social Care SVQ or NVQ Level 4. The book covers all the mandatory (or core) units of the Health and Social Care SVQ and NVQ Level 4. At a cost of only £15 it is one of the most accessible books available.

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