The work of Wilkins and Boahen (2013)5 describes critical analysis as an evolution of the three-step process of critical thinking: • Critical thinking involves examining the elements of something; gaining a better understanding of it; and then selecting a course of action. • Critical analysis highlights the need ‘to think about and weigh up different elements of information rather than accepting everything at face value….social workers need to think critically about why they are being given certain information and what it might mean.’
Critical analysis involves careful consideration and interrogation of • Social workers’ own beliefs and views • Alternative views and perspectives • Experience • Reading, literature and research • Other people’s comments.
Croisdale Appleby (2014)9 discusses the complex nature of social work ‘where practitioners are continuously collecting and analysing ‘partial and contradictory fragments of information’ within a dynamic, challenging and multifaceted environment’. An analytical mind-set can assist in making sense of this information, and planning purposeful social work interventions.
SW6007 Critical Analysis Contextual Information Form:
The type of agency:
My placement is in the Care Agency’s long-term adult team/ and Adults with learning disabilities. This is a statutory local authority office. For Disability Services, the concept of John O’Brien’s Five Service Accomplishments (1987) is the guiding principle for our work. For Adults services, the guiding principles are the….
A brief overview: The service user/ carer/family and presenting situation: How we became involved and the plan for social work intervention; age, gender, ethnicity, disability, family circumstances:
‘A’ is a 67 year old white, Gibraltarian gentleman. He lives in a one-bedroom, warden-assisted age-segregated retirement block with his dog. He has a 20-year old son from an ex-wife from whom he has been divorced for around 18 years. Mother and son live together around a mile away from ‘A’. ‘A’ was referred by the hospital to us after another one of multiple falls he has had; this one resulted in a fractured wrist. He was thought to need an increase in domiciliary care.
The Care Agency’s approach is person-centred…???
Other Information: similarities or differences:
I am a Jewish, white, woman between the ages of 30-40, and am a single mother who has lived in Gibraltar for almost 10 years coming from the UK prior. I have no immediate family support as they all live abroad with their families, and only in the last 5 years have I built a truly close network of friends that are like family in Gibraltar. I also have the good fortune of having a financially successful and supportive ex-husband. This has not always been the case, and when I initially separated I felt the extreme feelings of isolation, severe lack of self-confidence as a parent, loneliness and dependency, all whilst looking after a very small infant.
Genogram of Mr ‘A’s Family/support system in Gibraltar:
——- Not a close relationship
The referral seemed like it was going to be quite straightforward as this man had been referred because of his falls and so I assumed he would need additional temporary support for everyday living tasks as he already has carers who go in for 30 minutes a day to support him.
Upon arrival a very yappy, loud dog greeted me at the door. It was evident that even when I introduced myself Mr A couldn’t hear what I was saying as he appeared to have a vacant look like he was waiting for me to speak even though I had tried to introduce myself. I was then competing with a very loud barking dog and his deafness, so I was stood outside this man’s doors shouting who I was and what I was doing there as loud as I could until I got acknowledgement. Eventually the warden, who had heard the commotion came along and also raised his voice and told Mr A to put the dog in another room so we could hear each other speak. I FELT BAD FOR SHOUTING OUTSIDE IN THE CORRIDOR TRYING TO EPLAIN WHO I WAS WITH OTHER PEOPLE PASSING BY. CONFIDENTIALITY? DIGNITY? RESPECT
Once I could explain who I was, I was allowed in to the house. It was instantly evident this gentleman had mobility issues and the warden also confirmed this before I entered; that he had picked this man up several times from the floor due to his falls.
I noticed quite a dirty floor, and a strong unpleasant odour in the flat. There was an amount of build-up of empty drinks bottles and lots of envelopes of mail lying around the house so that no clear surfaces could be seen other than the two 1-seater couches and some areas of walking space was clear from the lounge to the kitchen and to the bedroom and bathroom. MY STANDARDS? WHATS ACCEPTABLE TO HIM? HE LIKES LIVING IN THIS WAY HE IS ENTITLED TO? ALTHOUGH IF CARER ARE GOING SHOULDN’T WE BE MONITORING WHAT THEY ARE DOING? TO WHOSE STANDARDS AM I JUDGING CLEAANLINESS? MY OWN BIASES AND STANDARDS? Hedley (2007) ruled:
Finding the balance between oppressive practice and preventing further harm.
Uncertainty exists; would more domiciliary support address the issues Mr A is having
My thoughts were that this was all to be expected given his physical state, but what I didn’t understand was that if he had carers already going every day, why was the house in such a state? Also, after discussion, I now understood what was causing his falls and what was preventing him from obtaining his corrective surgery; as long as he was falling and hurting himself i.e. his chest and hips, and he was unable to breathe without pain, so the surgeon couldn’t book him in. So, this was a difficult cycle to break because even though he falls over, he still feels capable enough, to attempt his daily living tasks, or too proud to accept the help, and seemed to be portraying a very independent image although not showing enough insight that he needs to accept help in order to recover, so that he can then have the corrective surgery that will prevent the falls!
However, my questions revealed that more than wanting support for his daily living tasks, he felt lonely. He wanted company and someone to talk to.
Of course according to Erickson, as he is at the mature stage of his life, he is able to reflect back and contemplate his accomplishments and so he showed me his photos of his army days which were proudly hung around the house, a hand-painted portrait sat proudly as main centre piece in his lounge of himself and his son, and the models he creates during all the days he is at home alone.
He has a 20 year old son who lives with his mother, less than a mile away, as they are now divorced. He uses an electric scooter to get around and enjoys building little models e.g. war canons, ships and cars etc.
He divorced 18 years ago and has remained alone ever since. His mobility and hearing being the only things restricting him, as he was able to cognitively function quite well; responding to my questions with clarity and explaining things succinctly.
Critical analysis highlights the need ‘to think about and weigh up different elements of information rather than accepting everything at face value….social workers need to think critically about why they are being given certain information and what it might mean.’
My mind constantly questioning what my duty was here; and what to critically analyse; was it to provide more care so he would stand a better chance at recovering quicker, thereby accessing the surgery he needs, thereby regaining his mobility again, or was my concern to address his emotional wellbeing and how best to support this?
Even though I understood that the additional support request was not coming directly from him, I sensed that he felt it would take away the feeling of loneliness.
On the one hand, this gentleman stated he had a son and an ex-wife who he said he has a good relationship with as she was the one to book his surgery date for him, and yet he tells me he feels so lonely and only has his dog for company. He says he used to have a lady-friend who he would talk to or see when they could but since she became ill this hasn’t been possible. Usually, during non-
Klein (1999) coins the term ‘Recognition-Primed Decision-Making’ (RPD).I would use this phrase to describe my analysis of ‘A’. Given what I know about the problem and the likely outcome, based on my knowledge but little experience, but still making use of the recognition of some key factors, I made my analysis consciously rather than intuitively.