Pitfalls for managers and policy makers 5
Recording formats overlap
The desire to develop focused recording, which serves a
number of different functions, has lead to an increased
use of standardised recording formats.
Problems occur when these formats overlap and practitioners
find themselves recording the same information in several
places within the file. 'Recording with Care' cites the
example of one family where child protection enquiries led
to children having to become looked after. As a result the
social worker had to complete 74 different forms (1).
Given the nature of the example it is perhaps unnecessary
to point out the time wasted by practitioners in duplicating
records and the level of frustration experienced by the
practitioner, and one suspects the family.
It is important therefore than when new formats are developed
existing formats are reviewed and where possible rationalised.
It will also be important to consider whether the introduction
of a new recording format, such as an assessment format,
should reduce the requirement for other detailed records
to be kept. In introducing the Integrated Children's System
(2002), it is intended that information will be entered
into a computer system only once, thereby reducing the duplication
experienced in paper recording systems.
However, it is not simply a matter of developing a 'one
format fits all' system for recording. Different types of
records are required for different functions. For example,
the same format could not be used for court reports and
form E's. The information required, and the way in which
that information needs to be presented and evaluated, will
be significantly different if it is to meet the needs of
the court in the first case and the adoption panel and prospective
adopters in the second.
1. Social Services Inspectorate (1999)
Recording With Care. Inspection of Case Recording in
Social Services Departments, Department of Health, London.