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Pitfalls for managers and policy makers 1

There is no management action to support policies and procedures

Policies and procedures are not supported by management action

Almost all local authorities have policies and procedures which cover recording. Whilst policies and procedures can support effective recording, the findings from research and inspections suggest that it is when policies and procedures are combined with management action that significant benefits occur, both in the quality of work and in relationships with service users (1).

File audits are not carried out regularly

Routine file auditing is one way managers can ensure that departmental policies and procedures are being followed. Routine auditing has been linked with improvements in practice (2). 'Recording with Care' contains copies of the checklists used by the Social Services Inspectorate to audit files.

It is important to differentiate between quantitative and qualitative auditing. Quantitative audits consider whether the file is up to date, contains all the relevant documentation and that the documentation has been properly completed. Qualitative auditing considers the quality of the recording on file, and whether it reflects good practice. Although these can be conducted independently both are necessary. The record may be up to date and contain all the relevant documentation, but the quality of the recording may be poor or inappropriate to the needs of the child. Similarly, the record may be of a high standard, but out of date.

Records are not used in supervision

Supervisors and front line managers can play a key role in both monitoring and developing effective recording (3). Research suggests that often records are only used in supervision in complex cases, or where something has gone wrong (4). However, by using case records in supervision, supervisors and front line managers can evaluate both the quantitative and qualitative elements of recording. They are able to promote recording by emphasising its role in supporting good practice and as a key part of the social work service to children and families (5). This will be especially important where practitioners view recording as fulfilling only a management function.

In order to do this supervisors and front line managers require support with training and clear guidance (6).

References

1. Social Services Inspectorate (1999) Recording With Care. Inspection of Case Recording in Social Services Departments. Department of Health, London.

2. Social Services Inspectorate (1999) Recording With Care. Inspection of Case Recording in Social Services Departments. Department of Health, London.

3. Ovreveit, J (1986) Improving Social Work Records and Practice, BASW, Birmingham. Social Services Inspectorate (1999) Recording With Care Inspection of Case Recording in Social Services Departments. Department of Health, London.

4. Kagle J D (1983) The Contemporary Social Work Record. Social Work 17: 149-153.

5. Social Services Inspectorate (1999) Recording With Care. Inspection of Case Recording in Social Services Departments. Department of Health, London.

6. Social Services Inspectorate (1999) Recording With Care. Inspection of Case Recording in Social Services Departments. Department of Health, London.

 

 
 
 
By Steve Walker, David Shemmings and Hedy Cleaver
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