aim of this essay is to briefly talk about my previous experience with the
service user.  My learning from the
Preparation for Practice Learning module would be critically analysed, and the
development of the social work role historically would be discussed to the
present day, while the concluding part of the essay will discuss about the
communication theories that facilitate good communication skills.

My Experience with the service user

company I worked for provide services for people who have mixture of the
following disabilities. Physical disabilities, mental health issue, rare
disorder, intellectual disability and acquired brain injury. Each of the
service user who attends the resource centres is supported to increase
their independence and confidence, enabling them to improve their quality
of life. This is done through person-centred planning. The resource centre
provides a range of education, training and employment opportunities according
to the wishes and abilities of the service user, although the activities varies
depending on their level of disability and age.

service user group is divided into three namely,

senior (50+) have a special room for reading, colouring, drawing, knitting
individual project, community programme computers, and different kinds of
things that makes them happy. They also have a timetable for different
activities each day.

transitions group comprises of the young adult between ages of 16-19. They
learn how to read and write, they do spellings, simple arithmetic and play

last group is the new horizon where some of the service users gathered together
for current affairs, art work, literacy skills, soaps and glory and many more.
They also play different types of games like Biocha, the rings, cards and

resource centre have different activities designed for every single day which I
found very interesting, but working with the active senior at times can be very
challenging, especially when they do not feel like taking part in any of the
activities , and would rather work on their own ,rather than being dictated to
which I found frustrating at times. The main challenge was gaining the respect
and trust of the service user. At the initial stage, I thought they were being
hostile to me because at times, they just walk away and would not want to talk,
each time I  tried to converse with them
. I never knew that some of the service user had hearing impairment and it took
me time to realise this. It was a mistake on my own part because I was not
observant and did not listen enough during the induction programme to know
which of the service has a particular disability. Having said that, not all the
service user behave in such manner. Some of the service did not want to have
anything to do with me as a result of being new in the organisation hence it
took them time to accept me.

the centre has different activities for every single day.  After the usual team briefing, it is very
important for me to wait for the other service user (forty- four in number) to
arrive the centre before embarking on any programme. I always find this
relaxing, and had no choice than to use the opportunity to chat with the
service users individually, and also get to know each other more.  Finally, I discovered a strategy in dealing
with the situation. I put on a bright smile and comments on their appearance.
For example, I might say, your scarf is beautiful, or I like your jumper, or
make up. After engaging them through conversation, I quickly ask nicely if they
would like to participate in the programme. At this stage, they found it
difficult to say no.

Learning from
preparation for practise

According to Egan (2007), he discussed on the
importance of values and attitudes in attending to service users. For example,
if I had listen attentively, I would have been able to differentiate from which
of the service user had a particular disability, especially with those who have
hearing impairment. I did not pause and ponder on how my “values and attitude
are being expressed in my non-verbal and verbal behaviour”.(Lishman, 2009)

Preparation for practise module has been an eye
opener for me, this is because it made me realise that every activities with
the service user,  staff or manager
requires good communication skills which is one of the skills and qualities
required to be a social worker. 
Communication Strategies are one of the essential communication skills
for success in life and work. This made it possible for me in understanding the
impact that my verbal communication skills have on other people, while
exploring how improving these skills can make it easier for me to get along in
the workplace, and in life.

However, I have now developed the skills to ask
questions and skills in  listening
actively especially with the service users irrespective of their disabilities
and definitely to others and learning what their non-verbal messages are saying
besides knowing how to develop it into a healthy group

Development of Social work role

According to Spicker (2006) in the middle ages, the Christians and
charity organisations provided support for the poor in most of Europe. “During
the middle ages”, support was provided to the poor in most of the European
countries through Christian charity. The main recognised groups were the Church
and the monasteries. This made it possible for some of the people who were poor
to leave their land and live in the cities.

According to Curry (1998),the origin of many of
today’s social services were laid down by the British Government  before this , poor law was an attempt to come
to terms with some of the problems arising from widespread of poverty in the
early 17th to late 19th century. The poor law amendment
(1834) was never a single institution, it was a group of genuine requirements
to deliver assistance to the people who were in need. Children were born,
clothes, educated and in custody at the expense of the parish. This also
applies to those who were mentally sick and infirm, they were also catered for
inside and outside workhouse. The basis method of that relief, and the
measurable arrangements by which it was provided, involved a difficult series
of organisations, which is related openly to the poor law. Even though the
workhouse was a vital piece of this institutional chain which was the only
space in which relief was given, the workhouse conditions were deliberately
harsh as it was designed in such a way that only people who are most desperate
accepted the offer. The people who are destitute were giving the options of
either entering the workhouse or stay outside, which gave many people the
option to die outside the road rather than go into the workhouse. (Payne, 2005)

Furthermore, the act of relief for the poor was
introduced in 1601 in United Kingdom, There were two types of relief available
to the poor, the outdoor relief and the indoor relief. The outdoor relief would
enable the poor to live in their own homes and they would be given money on
which to live on, or be given relief in kind such as foods, and clothing. While
the indoor relief required the poor to be taken into the workhouse where they
would be made to work. (Spicker, 2006)

According to Spicker (2006) 1834 Poor law
Amendment act was created by a group of private and local organisations with inadequate
income and procedures, who came from different management and administration.
As a result of this, there were discrepancies in their act and the output was
very poor because they lacked control. The deserving poor which consists of the
old and young children were responsible for each other, therefore, the elderly
parents were expected to live with their children. While the underserving poor
refers to primarily beggars,   who it was
felt, could work if they wanted to. Moreover, the undesirable were classified
as   those moving from one place to the
other, and those out of work. There was an act, passed in 1635 to punish such
undesirable and part of their punishment included forced labour and moderate
whipping (Payne, 2005)

Chenoweth and McAuliffe (2012) described
social workers as “friendly visitors or the Almoners”,   basically there were all female who came
from middle and upper class family, who also held Christians beliefs. The role
of Social workers was to give assistance to those that were deem fit deserving
poor, who actually qualified to be helped and the undeserving poor who were
meant to be at the workhouse.  In
addition, throughout the 1800’s the concept of charity organisation which came
as a relief to the deserving and underserving poor spread quickly all over the
area. Majority of the charity organisation have the mutual principles as the
poor law. According to Payne (2005) he argued that most of the relief given by
the charity organisation made the poor more dependent on welfare, which could
discourage the poor from making themselves viable for employment. During that
time, religion was very powerful in the society, this led to the creation of
some charity organisation society (CSO) in the year 1840. Hence social work was
created in order to prevent other charity organisation who wanted to perform
similar role, thereby creating chaos within the organisation because many
people took advantage of the situation so as to avoid going into the workhouse.
(Langan, 1993) Towards the end of 1860, the rate of poverty increased, and the
relief given at the time was believed to have drained the resources of the
community, hence, other support were needed as it was discovered that majority
of the poor people seek relief was as a result of their condition of living.
(Dulmus and Sowers, 2012).

Gleeson, (2008) discussed further on the
creation of the world first formal social worker training centre, which was
established in New York in the year 1898 by Mary Richmond. Although, many other
training centre was established all over United Kingdom Australia and United
State of America, while In America, the professional standard of social work
guidelines and rules was founded by the association of social worker in 1921.
The guidelines overlook group worker and charity organisation as a result of
lacking formal training. (Dulmus and Sowers, 2012).

According to Langan, (1993) social work was
established as a charitable organisation on the precincts of statutory
services. Progressively social work activities became popular in the 20th
century irrespective of the organisation who carried out professional
activities. In the year 1970, social work was merged into statutory tools. The
states won the right to intercedes in the right of individual and also took
over how it should be managed. Ever since, the state have successfully taken
control of how the affairs of the charitable organisation should be managed.
The report carried out by Beveridge in 1942, according to Le Grand (2008) was viewed as the footing for the modern welfare state in
the United Kingdom. Furthermore, Beveridge report continued on the importance”
to eliminate the five giants of want, squalor, idleness, ignorance and
disease: the giants of too little”. (Le Grand, 2008, p843) He also advised on
some measures which the government could implement to challenge the issues,
although the report was not totally executed by government and was abandoned by
the conservative party. After the report, in 1948 National Health Service known
as the NHS came into existence.

work according to Payne (2005) developed from three main sources, namely the
charity organisation, the poor law and the settlement movement. During the
regime of Margaret thatcher in 1979 there was a decline in social work,
although this was as a result of many causes, for example, failure in child
protection. This portrayed social work as problematic rather than being the
solution to poverty. In the 20th century a move was made concerning developing
a reasonable method towards conservatism and liberalism ,however, the welfare
state was not introduced by the liberal government but was viewed as the source
of a state of social service.





Communication Theories

Baker (2003) described “communication as the verbal and
non-verbal exchange of information, including all the ways in which knowledge
is transmitted and received.”(Baker 2003: 83 cited in Trevithick 2005, p116)
Communication is an essential tool used by Social worker in order to be able to
communicate effectively to the service user as debated by Wilson et al, (2008)
this is because social worker need the knowledge to be subtle in understanding
the situation of the service so as to be able to build relationship with the
service user .Furthermore every relationship begins with introduction especially
when it comes to gaining insight into what needs to be done  to bring about changes in the service users ,
which could be done by conversing about the service user family, culture,
values and need that will further enhance the development of rapport between
the service user and the social worker.

When discussing with a service user, it is very important to
apply the principle of active listening by listening without having to
interrupt the service user and following the Egan (2007) SOLER theory (Acronyms
used to described the component of communication), the main idea of using the
theory is to be assertive when dealing with service user, especially during the
initial assessment and after. When conducting interview, it very imperative
that the service user knows the purpose of the social workers visit and
conversation on the subject discussed should be subtle. Open ended questions
should be used so as to allow the service user expatiate further and give out
more information which the social worker might have forgotten to ask the
service user. Moreover, giving necessary information about available resources
to service user is a form of empowerment but when social worker withhold
information or failed to provide such is disempowering as discussed in Lishman
(2009) when giving information service users need to understand what the role
of the social worker is, information should be giving in a context of trust and
should be in a written format, simple and clear which could be easily referred
to. . This is because the service user might easily forget, if the information
is giving verbally. The information should also be relevant to the specific
service user.(Lishman, 2009 P121)

In conclusion, Non-verbal
and verbal communication can be used in all aspect of social work practise
either with the children, or with people who have disabilities or with the
elderly. Effective communication can be used to build rapport and give
solutions to problem encountered by service users