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Practitioners' experiences of the application of the systemic unit model

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posted on 2023-08-30, 18:51 authored by Marlene Bezuidenhout
The effectiveness of the social work profession has been questioned and the quality of the supervision process and decision-making skills. Munro, who was commissioned to review child protection in England, identified the need for change in the structure of social work practice. She stated in her final report that “Reclaiming Social Work” also known as the systemic unit model, is an example of best practice social work. The aim of this study is to explore, from the perspectives and experiences of practitioners, the application of the systemic unit model for a better understanding of how it is applied in social work practice in one Local Authority. This research uses a qualitative methodology and takes a constructivist approach to understand the individual’s experiences. It uses two data collection methods, namely observations (at fifteen unit meetings) and in-depth semi-structured interviews (with thirteen practitioners). A thematic data analyses was applied that was adapted from both Creswell and “The Framework”. Findings evidence that, from the participants’ perspective, and particularly that of Newly Qualified Social Workers, the unit structure and how the model works plays a critical role in providing them with essential support by way of reflective group case supervisions. Furthermore, participants suggest that the systemic unit model establishes a systems approach, which enhances reflective practice, the qualities and skills of practitioners and decision-making processes and facilitates shared responsibility, accountability and transparency. Findings also demonstrate that the way in which the model is implemented can impact organisational stability. In focusing on the perspective of practitioners the study contributes to a better understanding of the importance of the interdependence of all aspects of the model and how systemic practice can support social workers to deliver enhanced social work practice.



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