Carpenter, Nicola (2019) Exploratory Study of Social Workers’ Perceptions of Collaboration in a Local Authority. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This small scale study examines the perspectives of social workers from adult mental health services and childrens social care on collaboration. Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore social workers’ experiences of working with families and professionals both inside and outside their own agencies and their thoughts on the barriers to collaboration, as well as their ideas on how collaboration could be improved. Thematic analysis was used to create a coding process and generate patterns across the data, with perspectives on collaboration being found to be influenced by organisational climate and culture, professional identity and the narratives within each service. A common theme identified by all subjects was that they had a very limited understanding of each other’s service, in terms of skills, roles and procedures and any improvements to their knowledge base in this regard would be welcome. The research found important differences in the perspectives of social workers from each service. Significantly, mental health social workers identified collaboration primarily as a process of co-production with their service users. Children’s social workers, however, saw the primary purpose of collaboration as being to seek out information from other professionals for their assessment work in order for decisions to be made. These perspectives, in turn, fuelled how they viewed each other’s service and promoted narratives that served to divide services rather than encourage collaborative work.

Recommendations include changing narratives and developing relationships across service boundaries for both services. There is also a team in place which has been set up to develop collaborative work by bridging the gap between adult mental health and children’s social care services, and the conclusions and recommendations in this study will be used to influence the direction of their work.

FINAL THESIS - Carpenter.pdf - Accepted Version
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