Journal Article

An Audit of Assessment and Reporting by Approved Social Workers (ASWs)

Gavin Davidson and Jim Campbell

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 5, pages 1609-1627
Published in print July 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online May 2009 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
An Audit of Assessment and Reporting by Approved Social Workers (ASWs)

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This paper examines the routine practice of Approved Social Workers (ASWs) in adult mental health services in Northern Ireland. It begins with a review of existing literature on the ASW role before describing how a retrospective audit, using a mixed methods approach, was used to collect data on eighty-four assessments carried out to determine whether compulsory admission to hospital was needed. Respondents were also asked to consider how such assessments might be affected by proposed changes to the law in this field. The key findings highlighted a number of areas of practice that may be improved. There were inconsistencies in how the assessments were recorded and an uneven distribution of workloads across ASWs. Some problems were identified with inter-agency working and, in a quarter of the assessments, the ASW reported having felt afraid or at risk. The authors make a number of recommendations, which include: the use of a standard reporting procedure; that organisations should consider how to deliver a more even distribution of ASW workload; that protocols should be developed that ensure that ASWs are not left alone in potentially risky situations; and that joint assessments with General Practitioners should be required, rather than just recommended.

Keywords: Approved Social Work; mental health law; assessment; risk

Journal Article.  7118 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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