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About this book

This clear and concise textbook is an invaluable guide for students embarking on their social work placements. Packed with tips, quotes, activities and illustrations, it offers coherent advice on how to get the best out of practice learning opportunities, as well as an insight into students' perspectives for practice assessors, lecturers and practitioners. Following the process of placement, the book guides students through their preparation for practice placement modules by presenting helpful ideas and practical advice on how to overcome potential challenges and make the most of the opportunities offered to students on their placements.

Written by experienced academics, this is an essential companion for students at any stage in their social work course, as well as those studying other areas of health and social care practice.

Table of Contents

1. Getting started

Abstract
‘Most social work courses start with university-based learning. The opportunity to try out the theories, skills and methods you have read about and practised in the classroom is an exciting prospect, but it can also be a daunting one. This chapter aims to help you make the most of your placement by being as well prepared as you can be. One of the most important ways of doing this is to take the advice of the students quoted above and plan ahead. We will make some suggestions about how to achieve this as well as providing tips, practical advice, exercises and information about how to ensure that the beginning of your placement is an enjoyable and effective learning experience.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones

2. Learning for practice

Abstract
Starting a new social work placement is a great opportunity to put your learning from university into practice. The process of becoming a professional social worker involves acquiring a set of skills and knowledge that you can apply confidently in practice situations. Of course, it is not unusual to feel out of your depth like Yasmin or to believe that none of what you have learned on your course is going to be of any use in the ‘real world’ of practice. In fact, like Jodie, you almost certainly know more than you think you do You will also have people involved in your placement who are there specifically to help you make the connections between theory and practice and move further along the road towards becoming a skilled, competent social worker. This chapter will help to increase your confidence by identifying your strengths as well as the areas where you may need further support from practice educators, university tutors and others. It also offers useful tips on how to make the most of the learning available to you on placement.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones

3. Using theory and knowledge in practice

Abstract
As a social worker you will draw on a wide range of knowledge to help you understand different situations and guide your practice. This will include theories about why things are the way they are, findings from research and all sorts of other published writing about the knowledge, skills and values that underpin social work You will also learn a great deal during your placement from watching and listening to more experienced social workers and by reflecting on your own experiences. Together, these different forms of knowledge or evidence represent an invaluable guide to how, when and why to intervene in practice situations.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones

4. Values and ethics in practice

Abstract
Values are central to social work practice. This is inevitable in a profession that is primarily concerned with the way people treat one another and live their lives in society. The statutory element of the social work role means that practitioners have a wide range of responsibilities in relation to formal legal rules about right and wrong ways of behaving. They also work with many less formal social expectations or ‘norms’ about the kinds of behaviour and views that are considered acceptable or unacceptable. These include social workers’ own expectations and those of their profession. Working constantly, as social workers do, with individuals, families, groups and communities in relation to the things that they believe to be important further adds to the sense of social work as a ‘value laden’ profession (Hugman 2007). Values, then, are implicated in almost everything that social workers do. What is more, values underpin and give meaning to practice and are part of what defines and unites the profession in the UK and across the world It is therefore not surprising that, as Dominic says above, values get talked about a lot in social work education.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones

5. Keeping service users central to your learning and practice

Abstract
During a busy placement it is easy to forget about the real reason you are there Whatever terminology you use — ‘service users’, ‘clients’, ‘patients’ or ‘customers’ — the fact remains that people are at the heart of social work. This chapter will help you to understand why service user participation and the promotion of equality are central to the value base underpinning social work practice It will also help you to keep service users at the centre of your practice and to learn from their experiences and expertise.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones

6. Making the most of supervision

Abstract
Good supervision can make for a great placement, but if you have never worked in social care before you may wonder what it is and why it happens. If you’ve taken part in supervision before, you may be looking for a different experience now you are undertaking your social work training. This chapter will help you prepare for supervision as a social work student and, as Dominic and Nas suggest, make sure you know how to establish clear roles and responsibilities throughout the process.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones

7. Being assessed

Abstract
Stop for a minute. Think how much is asked of you on placement. It’s like starting a new job — but as well as settling in, developing your social work skills and trying to help service users, you are also going to be assessed. As Eve and Ellen note, you will need to manage both your work with service users and the requirements of your course to demonstrate your developing social work knowledge and skills. This chapter is going to help you find ways to make your assessed placement a success. Firstly, we discuss how social work practice is assessed in the UK and then consider key meetings and different people’s roles on placement. Secondly, we look at identifying examples of your work, which you will use to demonstrate that you have developed your social work skills. The last part of this chapter looks at what to do if you are having difficulties passing your placement, and who can help you.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones

8. Managing stress on placement

Abstract
As Yasmin notes, undertaking a placement involves a lot of hard work. Everyone is different, but most students on placement will find it stressful at some point You may be concerned about how your placement is going, whether you are getting on well with your practice educator or whether the service users you are working with will be okay. Don’t worry. Having these, and many other concerns, is usual and to be expected What is important is to find a way of managing the work you have to complete and managing the stress too.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones

9. Troubleshooting

Abstract
When you are on placement it is important to remember that you have skills and talents that will help you to succeed Along the way you may find that you have to work out how to solve some problems that often arise for students on placement As Jodie indicates, practice learning is a very different experience to academic learning at university and so will present you with different challenges. You have the power to influence and change the course of your placement and overcome the challenges you face.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones

10. Moving on from your placement

Abstract
Social workers know that endings and transitions can be times of great significance in their practice with service users and carers. Similarly, reaching the end of your placement and moving on to whatever comes next represents an important point in your life as well as in your social work training. In this final chapter we will help you find positive ways of managing the end of your placement. With careful planning, you can use this final phase to consolidate your learning and skills and prepare yourself for the continuation of your training or for the beginning of your social work career.
Robert Lomax, Karen Jones
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