Force-Based Questions for Social Work Assessments


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This article provides an excerpt from the Community Care Inform Adults Guide to Assessments. The comprehensive guide provides in-depth and comprehensive coverage on conducting person-centered and strengths-based assessments. Inform adults subscribers can access the full content here. The guide is written by Elaine Aspinwall-Roberts, a qualified social worker and senior lecturer at John Moores University in Liverpool.

Assessment is one of the most important social tasks. There are many different types, from prenatal to caregivers, and this often signals the start of a social worker or occupational therapist’s engagement with a person.

For social workers in adult services, assessing an individual’s care and support needs is vital. It determines whether they are eligible for community services. In a climate of cuts and limited resources, this can make assessment a checkbox exercise, rather than a chance to work collaboratively with the person, get to know them and help them achieve. their goals and improve their well-being.

The Care Act 2014 attempted to reframe the assessment, calling it a “full-fledged critical intervention” (Department of Health, 2016, paragraph 6.2). And there is a growing interest in ‘strengths-based’ assessment approaches – where the focus is not on what the person cannot do, but on their strengths and the supports they have. around her in her family and community.

Questioning approaches

On paper, assessments can follow a very rigid questioning format. But how you ask these questions is your choice. Be bold to reframe and rethink questions in a way that helps individuals define the problem for themselves and decide the extent of the problem, but avoid intruding into areas they do not see as a problem (Richards, 2000, p43).

Other questioning approaches that can be considered:

  • Loan Solution-Centered Brief Therapy ‘The Miracle Question’ (Howe, 2009, p93). “Suppose one night, while you are sleeping, a miracle happens and the problem is solved. How would you know What would be different? “
  • Think about what you would ask someone if you only had five questions to ask when you first started working with them (Saleebey, 2012).
  • Think about how you would like your questions to be worded if they were directed to your loved ones.
  • Think about phrasing. Bolger’s study (2014, p429) revealed that the questions formulated “are you having difficulty? Or “how are you doing?” “Invite a statement of need from the service user, while those that read” are you doing well? Suggest that there is no need to be satisfied.

Pritchard (2007, p148) suggests that when interviewing people for safeguard surveys, you should try to avoid the word ‘why’ to start a question, and instead use ‘how’, ‘who’, ‘ what “,” when “or” “where”, because these are less accusatory. She also suggests that wording questions with words like “tell me”, “explain” and “describe” is good policy in many assessment situations, not just to protect.

It takes practice and confidence to be good at asking questions. As Graybeal (2001, p241) puts it, “learning to ask questions that open up possibilities is an art form that takes practice”. Sometimes questions won’t work or will be misinterpreted or misunderstood, but practitioners should always strive to find better ways to ask questions. O’Connor (2001, p139) suggests that practitioners may ask themselves:

  1. What’s the most useful question I can ask right now?
  2. What am I not sure that would make a difference if I did?
  3. Which question will bring me closer to my result?
  4. Do I need to ask a question?

The references

Bolger, A (2014)
“Assessment is in the Chat”: Analyzing Conversations in Community Care
Qualitative social work, Volume 13, Number 3, p421-35

Ministry of Health (2016)
Statutory advice on care and support

Graybeal, C (2001)
“Strengths-Based Social Work Assessment: Transforming the Dominant Paradigm”
Families in Society, Volume 82, Number 3, pp233-42

Howe, D (2009)
A brief introduction to social work theory
Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

O’Connor, J (2001)
“NLP Workbook: A Practical Guide to Achieving Desired Results”
in Holroyd, J (2012),Improve personal and organizational performance in social work
Sage, Learning Matters

Pritchard, J (2007)
Working with Adult Abuse
London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Richards, S (2000)
“Bridging the Gap: Seniors and the Assessment Process”
British Journal of Social Work, Volume 30, Number 1, pp37-49

Saleebey, D (2012)
The forces perspective in social work practice
Boston MA, Pearson Education

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