Journal Article

Risk and Supervision: Social Work Responses to Referred User Problems


in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 27, issue 1, pages 115-129
Published in print February 1997 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 1997 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Risk and Supervision: Social Work Responses to Referred User Problems

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This study examines social work responses to users following case allocation of the initial referral. The aim of the study is to demonstrate the need for supervision of social workers dealing with cases which have in common an inherent quality, described as ‘risk’. The study also links referrals to other practice responses identified as ‘service delivery’ and ‘advisory’ work. The relationship between these particular responses is tested against the outcome decision reached on case closure. All referrals were allocated between two fieldwork teams over a one-year period and a total of 312 referred cases was allocated within the categories mentioned. Findings are indicative that more ‘risk’ type referrals, however defined, are resolved with additional supervisory input than without, and that lower status workers favoured ‘middle ground’ decisions of outcome when compared to their senior colleagues. A consideration resulting from this research is that agency definitions of risk are different to the type of risk which requires crisis intervention. The question of risk to the user or to the agency requires the workers concerned to be able to discriminate between such cases. The implication for team training is that supervisory input should clarify the nature of risk, if any, and the task required of the worker following case referral. The matching of skills which would ultimately be the objective of this type of research cannot be finally determined until a more comprehensive set of parameters for practice is identified. This study shows that the response categories used demonstrate some basic supervisory needs of the worker.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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