This essay is based on an intervention I did with a service user whist on placement. It will describe the incident as well as the purpose of the intervention. The essay will identify the barriers of communication that occurred during the intervention e. g. environmental barriers such as space and noise, emotions such as anxiety, etc. The paper will reflect on the impact these barriers had on the outcome of the intervention. In addition the paper will reflect on the key communication strategies used and analyse their strengths and weaknesses.
Furthermore the paper will reflect on the theories and models of interpersonal communication that are relevant to this incident. It will consider how the context and setting influenced the interaction. This incident occurred in a service user’s home where I had gone to do a Person Centred Plan (PCP). The service user is a 33 year old woman with a severe learning disability, living at home with her adopted family. The service user was adopted at the age of 2.
This is a large family comprising of the parents, 4 grownup brothers, 3 grown up sisters and their children. There is also | male lodger who is a friend of the family as well as 2 huge dogs. Even though some of the siblings have moved out, they spend most of their free time at home. My role was that of an advocate helping the service user to determine her likes and dislikes to enable her access activities in the community. In my previous session which was a first session with the service user, she had expressed her wish for independent supported living.
When I went through her previous case notes I noticed that the service user had expressed this with before and a suitable residence had been found for her, but she had suddenly changed her mind and said she wanted to live with her family. The principles of an advocate include: “Acting in the best interest of the client, keeping the client properly informed, act in accordance with the client’s wishes and instructions, carrying out instructions with diligence and competence. Act impartially and offer frank, independent advice and maintaining confidentiality”.
Bateman, N. (1995) Variables and reflection on their impact On the day of the incident the house was busy as can be expected of such a large family. The session took place in the kitchen where the service user and I sat at the breakfast table. There was a television on as the service user had been watching a programme just before I came in. Members of the family came in and out to use the kitchen or just to listen to what we were talking about. This made it very difficult for the dialogue to flow due to the constant interruption.
In addition to this even though the at my request the dogs were locked up, their constant barking was nerve racking to me considering I had a phobia for dogs after an incident with a dog as a child. The available space was very small meaning I was sitting too close to the service user which caused her to become agitated. According to McLaughlin et al, (2008), the distance in proximity between people affects people’s levels of comfort and can cause anxiety. Emotions The situation was also affected by the service user’s current emotions which involved her family members constantly shouting and criticising her.
She appeared nervous and anxious especially whenever one of her parents came into the kitchen. It was evident that she was not listening actively to what was being said. To be able to listen actively the listener is required to be attentive (Jones, 2009; Smith, 2010; Xue, 2009). The service user was distracted and was not as attentive as when it was just the two of us in the room. Littlechild, B. (2011) argues that, “Without knowledge of theory and ethics, social workers are just service administrators”.
It is essential and crucial to label the theories used as social workers/students because this enables the understanding of why groups such as individuals who have learning disabilities, children who have been abused, or people with mental health illnesses could be disadvantaged and oppressed. Using and identifying theory informs how we could respond best to this preventing us from intentionally being oppressive. The theories and models that informed this intervention included social role valorisation, PCS model.
In regards to the work to be done | used models of assessment, person centred planning as well as social/medical model. Presenting issues included empowerment. It is essential to make service feel valued and supported Social model states clearly that all people including people with disabilities can have access to what society has to offer and that all people equal rights to opportunities, (Maclean and Harrison, 2015). It suggests that systematic hurdles, negative mind set and the exclusion, either on purpose makes society responsible for disabling people.
Whilst disabilities can be limiting to how people function, it should not lead to inability. In spite of their disability and differences society should be accountable and should include all notwithstanding their differences. In addition I used the insights of the social role valorisation theory, a study of human services and human relationships. (Wolfensberger, 1985 and Lemay, 1995). The concept of social role valorisation is on the basis that society is inclined to classify a certain category of people as essentially being different and less valuable than others.
The theory analyses the effect the devaluation has on people such as my service user. The social role valorisation theory further goes on to state that unrealized role can be confined or delegated by their living environment, people they associate with or activities they are involved in. Furthermore the theory suggests that the available roles may be confined to only or assigned depending on an individual’s ability or more precisely insufficiency of ability to deliver effectively in the role (Wolfensberger, 1985 and Lemay, 1995).
Gaining an insight into the Social Role Valorization theory enabled me to get ideas on how to improve the life of the service user, who in my view was devalued by her family and maybe even by the society because of her learning disability. Firstly I sort to remove devaluing element and secondly I took action that would lead to the service user being valued. I did this by involving and rallying her family in the process, as the family was very much against service providers and had had disagreements with professionals in past.
The Social Role Valorization theory suggests that the people who are socially valued should support and help those who are socially devalued. This support will bring together, and build up acceptance and inspire the coexistence of groups of people. To achieve this I had an idea to make an equivalent of person centred plan, for the family to write what they liked about the service user. This was because none of the family members ever said anything positive about the service user. Social Role Valorization aims to challenge the psychological and social damage caused to vulnerable individuals due to them being devalued.
Recommendations: Several approaches could have been applied to reduce the difficulties that materialised in this intervention and to prevent them from reoccurring in future sessions. The environment of the session could be improved by holding the sessions outside the family home. This would mean that the service user will be able to speak freely without fear of her family listening to our dialogue. Furthermore holding our future sessions in a more private and quiet place will helping in reducing the service user’s anxiety therefore preventing her agitation (Keller, 2010).