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About this book

In recent years there has been a significant shift within social work practice towards recognising the expertise of people with a lived experience. As a result service user involvement is now embedded into curricula. Throughout this textbook, service users and carers detail their experiences of interventions including being detained under the Mental Health Act, having a child removed to a place of safety and having a carer’s assessment.
In meeting professional standards such as the Professional Capabilities Framework, students and social workers are required to take into account service user perspectives, and to collaborate with them to achieve positive outcomes. Chapters end with advice to social workers directly from contributors, providing invaluable perspectives on different intervention situations. There is specific focus on statutory social work throughout, as well as an exploration of broader implications of interventions, the underpinning legislation, policies and research.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

This book provides a key text for social work students and practitioners undertaking or learning about statutory social work interventions such as: being detained under the Mental Health Act; having a child removed to a place of safety; or having a carer’s assessment. As a social work student in the UK, you are required to gain experience of statutory tasks involving legal interventions as part of your practice learning. This book provides you with formal knowledge such as legislative and policy frameworks but from the perspective of people who have experienced them first-hand. Recognising the expertise of people with a lived experience is an essential part of social work practice but this voice is often lacking within social work text books. The Guide to Statutory Social Work Interventions: the lived experience, shares people’s experiences in an engaging and person-centred way. We consider dilemmas and difficult decisions social workers have to make and explore the impact of professional judgements and legal interventions on the lives of people we support. Each chapter is written by a service user or carer, with formal content such as broader implications, underpinning legislation, policies and research, added by a social worker. In some chapters, contributors have both areas of expertise as they identify as a service user or carer and are a registered social worker. Our approach to the book is underpinned by principles of: how we learn as adults; values and ethics of the social work profession; and the requirements to involve people with lived experience in social work education in the UK. These, along with how best to use this book to support your own learning and development, are outlined here.
Mel Hughes

2. 1 Valuing the Expertise of People with Lived Experience

This chapter will review current research and literature in relation to valuing the expertise of people with lived experience in social work education and of how this can inform your personal and professional development and improve outcomes for individuals, families, groups and communities you encounter in your subsequent practice.
Mel Hughes

3. 2 The Law and Social Work

The aim of this chapter is to help develop your understanding of the relationship between your practice and the law, particularly in relation to undertaking the statutory and legal interventions explored in this book. Law impacts on almost everything we do as social workers. Service users and their carers will often look to us to explain the law and will be significantly affected by our legal decision making. This can provoke a degree of anxiety for students and registered social workers.
Mel Hughes, Richard Murphy

4. 3 I had Multiple Foster Placements

I am a care leaver and nearly a qualified social worker. I am just finishing my social work degree and already have my first qualified job. I am also a proud husband and father. I grew up for the first 12 years of my life with my mother and younger brother as my parents were not together. This is only part of my story and doesn’t tell you the detail of my life before going into care. What is important for you to understand is that however hard it was, and it was hard; it was my ‘normal’. It was what I was used to and I knew how to be me in that life. What happened next is what I want you to know about. These are my memories at the age of 12.
Mel Hughes, Michael Wootten, Jennifer Bigmore

5. 4 My Son had a Section 17 Child in Need Assessment Due to his Disability

In 2004 Harry and Jack came into the world. Their father, Tom, and I were very happy and enjoyed the boys for 18 months before Harry’s diagnosis. Their father and I are now divorced but he is still very much involved with them.
Mel Hughes, Sarah Fulton, Tim Mitchell

6. 5 I was Taken in to Care

This is the story of how my sister and I came into care when I was aged 14 and my sister was 12. I have written this with Jenny who was my social worker at the time and who has come back into my life in recent years. The chapter will focus on one particular summer’s day which I will never forget. This was the day that my sister and I went to a child protection conference and the day we went into care.
Mel Hughes, Zoe McQuade, Jennifer Bigmore

7. 6 Our Needs were Assessed Due to Being Young Carers

I am Kirsty. I am 16. I go to college. I am doing Performing Arts. I am the youngest of two and I have a stepsister. I live with my mum. My stepsister lives in South Africa with her family and my sister lives close by with her baby. My mum suffers from Post Traumatic Distress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure. It’s sort of for as long as I remember.
Mel Hughes, Niki Kirsty, Ant, Lee, Maggie Harris

8. 7 My Child was Taken into Care – Leanne

My name is Leanne and I am a nurse and the mother of two daughters. I met G when I was 23. He was 18 months older than me. We got married after 3 years, with opposition from his family but we got over that. We started a family about 5 years later and had the two girls. Everything seemed absolutely fine, we were not aware of any issues with O when she was growing up. Well, she was always a bit of a challenge. When O started primary school there were a few issues but just in terms of her behaviour and her reactions to things. When she first went into school, in the first 2 years no one really flagged anything. In year one there was this great teacher who just said she was picking up on friendship issues and she just didn’t want it to become an issue further on. That was when we were first introduced to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The experience with CAMHS wasn’t great that first time, communication wasn’t very good. O was assessed and it was said that she was fine and that no referral for further support was necessary. These friendship problems sort of were a feature throughout primary school but she did really well academically.
Mel Hughes, Stefan Kleipoedzsus

9. 8 I was Approved as an Adopter

My name is Gareth and I have, with my wife Tasha, been approved for adoption twice.
Mel Hughes, Gareth Hunter, Naomi Fraser

10. 9 I was Assessed under the Care Act to Enable Me to Live Independently

My name is Sophie. I am 29 years old and I have always aspired to being included in society and being active; I want to look back on what I have done and say I have had a good quality of life. I am an ambitious person and always have personal goals in mind such as getting my degree, writing this chapter and competing in boccia. I love to travel with friends, as well as on my own with support, and I love collecting photos and key rings that remind me of what I have done and who with.
Mel Hughes, Sophie Buckley, Sally Lee

11. 10 I was Assessed under the Care Act and Received Direct Payments

I never imagined at 31 I would have to admit that I have a carer or Personal Assistant (PA) that comes in every day during the week to help me with mundane things. Ten years ago this wasn’t the future I had planned and I never thought I would have to have carer and social worker involvement at this age. When direct payments were first suggested to me a few feelings came up: anger towards my body; feeling like a failure, a burden; why was this happening to me; and self-pity. To me, it was a reflection and proof that I was actually ill and had a myriad of tasks that I cannot complete. Now after 2 years of having a PA, who is really more like a carer, my feelings have changed. I can see that I need this support and she helps me take some accountability for my illness as well as all the jobs I can’t do involving lifting or changing bed sheets. I need these physical jobs to be done and I have found the biggest help has been having somebody come in every day that can help encourage me. Whether this is to do small things around the flat or a gentle nudge if I need to go to hospital. I live on my own and I like my independence so having this means I can continue to still have that aspect of my life. My story is very complicated and my consultants say I have never fitted into a ‘box’. In this chapter I will try to explain my medical history, talk about my social worker involvement, care plans and direct payments.
Mel Hughes, Rachel Jury, Penny Riggs

12. 11 I was Assessed as Needing Drug Treatment

My name is Fay and I am 35 years old. My addiction and life aren’t typical. When I was young, all I remember was being poor, there wasn’t much food and it was always cold. I lived with my mum and brother. My mum showed me so much love but it wasn’t enough to stop the bullies – taunting, hitting and pushing because of our clothes with holes in. My father left just before I was born as he had another family on the go. My mum was broken by what he did but it didn’t stop her loving us. I hated this man for breaking the only people that loved me. I grew up tough and I became tougher – I moved out at a young age and wanted to prove I could make a good, wealthy, happy life on my own. I always had part-time jobs as well as studying. By the time I was 18 I was a qualified chef, working while travelling and seeing Europe. I always liked a drink but when I started working as a chef it became ‘normal’ to drink – in a hot kitchen and long hours. At 20 I met my first real boyfriend and decided to set up home. I thought: buy a house, have a family, calm down, but I had to earn the cash to buy one.
Mel Hughes, Fay, Julia Armstrong

13. 12 I was Detained under the Mental Health Act

My name is Zoe. I am a single mum with two teenage boys, two dogs and a cat. I find it hard to tell you who I am, because I describe myself as a bit of a contradiction. My friends say I am supportive and friendly and they would also probably describe me as sociable. I suppose I am, but I don’t really socialise.
Mel Hughes, Zoe Rooney, Rosslyn Dray

14. 13 I had a Carer’s Assessment

My name is Sue, I am 68 and retired from full-time employment when I was 62. I am a carer. I was born in Hertfordshire and have lived in Dorset for 40 years. My background is administration (PR, Marketing, Fundraising). I am married and have one son aged 41 years who has special needs (microcephaly) and lives in a supported living intentional community nearby. My mum is 91 and has been diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Mel Hughes, Sue, Emma Spicer

15. 14 Perspectives of People Who May Lack, or Have Limited, Capacity

I am currently the dementia lead for Tricuro, a Local Authority Trading Company wholly owned by Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole Councils. I am a qualified social worker and practice educator with over 30 years’ experience in adult social care, including working for 10 years with people who are living with the later stages of dementia within day services settings.
Mel Hughes, Margaret Parker

16. 15 Incorporating the Lived Experience into Our Everyday Practice

The aim of this chapter is to build on the learning achieved by reading the chapters so far and to explore how, and why, you might seek to incorporate learning from people with lived experience into your social work practice. Students often identify that they understand the importance of collaborating with people with lived experience, but are not always sure how to do this, particularly within the constraints of statutory social work where power imbalances are particularly evident. This chapter will draw on evidence within the wider literature of service user participation and involvement in social work practice as well as the experiences of those shared in this book. We explore what involvement and participation in practice looks like; the challenges you may encounter; and suggestions and recommendations from student social workers.
Mel Hughes
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