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Recording skills exercises

Exercise 1 Law into practice 1: General principles of recording and data protection
Exercise 2 Law into practice 2: confidentiality and anonymity
Exercise 3 Law into practice 3: Access to information and sharing records
Exercise 4 Fact ... or professional judgement?
Exercise 5 Relevant ... or not?
Exercise 6 Towards inclusive recording
Exercise 7 Assessing and analysing information in records
Exercise 8 Planning and reviewing progress in records

Introduction

You are asked to complete the following eight exercises and keep notes of your thoughts and reflections when doing them; similarly, please keep a copy of your own attempts at recording which are prompted by each of the exercises. Remember to bring your notes and recordings with you when you discuss them with your colleagues.

The material in the exercises is either taken from actual records or it was generated in training exercises with social workers and other professionals involved in children's services. We decided to do this because they have greater authenticity than if we had 'made them up'. We are not claiming, however, that the examples are representative of all social work recording in the 21st century.

All extracts have been anonymised to protect family members. We have also disguised some of them so that the writers are also protected but there is a remote possibility that you could see in the exercises something that looks like an extract which you wrote - therefore don't tell anyone, because, unless you do, they are unlikely ever to know!

The main point of these materials is to stress that we can always improve our recording; few of us can honestly say that we are entirely happy with the way we record. As an introductory exercise have a look at some of your own recording (preferably over as long a period of time as possible) and ask yourself two questions:

  1. Would I record this differently now?
  2. What would I think about my recording if the person referred to were to ask to see their file?

At the beginning of each exercise we ask you to rate your own knowledge and skills in respect of the topic; we then ask you to answer the same question after doing the exercise.

Finally, before making a start, have a think about the following quote from one of the first researchers into recording and access to records - John Øvretveit - who wrote:

The research concluded that a social worker cannot write a 'good record' unless they can: decide which is relevant to observe; decide what information is required to understand the background and causes of the problem; select and summarise the most important aspects of a case and define the . . . focus of the work; define the aims of their intervention in a way in which they and others can later judge the extent to which aims have been achieved; define the actions and tasks which they will undertake. These abilities are also necessary for 'good' social work practice, and improving records is at the same time a way of improving social work. (Øvretveit, 1986, p.45).

What do you think - do you agree? Although we consider that the 'recording' of social work and the work itself are interlinked, nevertheless, when preparing these exercises we have concentrated on what social workers write and not on the different ways they practice.

Exercise 1 >>

 
 

 
By Steve Walker, David Shemmings and Hedy Cleaver
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