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Getting a sense of the client: Working methods in the personal social services in Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2013 (English)In: Journal of Social Work, ISSN 1468-0173, E-ISSN 1741-296X, Vol. 13, no 5, 508-532 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Summary: This article presents a study of working methods used by social workers within the personal social services (PSS), in their work with clients. The study is part of a larger research project with the aim of describing and analysing how specialized respectively integrated forms of organizations in the PSS condition social workers’ interventions and client effects (outcomes). The study was carried out in three Swedish municipalities with different organizational models. Two of those represent ‘extremes’ as they have pure specialized (divided in different types of units) respectively integrated (generic) organizations. The third municipality has chosen a middle way with an organization that combines aspects of the two other models. All social workers within the PSS in those three municipalities were included in the study.

Findings: Our findings among other things show 1) that the use of unspecific methods dominates, 2) that several methods that are reported as specific are definitely not specific, 3) that specific methods often are used in free and unspecific ways, 4) that there seems to be a compensating movement (regarding use of methods) with the aim of evening out limitations in the formal PSS organizations, 5) that there are two relatively large groups of method users: ‘improvisers’ and ‘eclecticists’.

Applications: Social workers consider their relationships to clients and the clients’ trust as much more important (in order to achieve results) than any particular method. The use of methods is mirroring the social workers’ readiness before, and planned

adaptation to, different types of situations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2013. Vol. 13, no 5, 508-532 p.
Keyword [en]
Social work, integration, methods, organizations, relationships, specialization
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-37549DOI: 10.1177/1468017311435047OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-37549DiVA: diva2:361201
Projects
Specialisering eller integration av socialtjänstens individ- och familjeomsorg. Effekter på insatser och resultat.
Available from: 2010-11-08 Created: 2010-11-08 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Skilda världar: specialisering eller integration i socialtjänstens individ- och familjeomsorg
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Skilda världar: specialisering eller integration i socialtjänstens individ- och familjeomsorg
2010 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The general objective of this dissertation is to describe and analyse how specialised respective integrated forms of organisation in the Swedish Personal Social Services (PSS) condition social workers’ interventions and client effects (outcomes). The three specific questions are: 1) How are structural conditions for social work with clients created in specialised versus integrated (generic) forms of organising PSS? 2) How do social workers carry out their work with clients in specialised versus integrated (generic) PSS-organisations? 3) How do different organisational models of PSS  influence the results for clients?

The research was conducted in three Swedish municipalities with different organisational models within the personal social services: 1) specialised organisation, 2) integrated organisation, and 3) a “combined” organisation with a mix between integration and specialisation.

The research had a complex design. It was carried on as comparative case study. Data was collected in several different ways: 1) by means of survey among social workers, 2) by interviewing politicians, mangers and social workers, 3) focus groups consisting of social workers, 4) by collecting official documents, guidelines etc. 5) by mapping of the organisation of social services in the municipalities by means of analyse of their homepages and additional interviews by telephone.  The data were analysed using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

The main results in this dissertation are: 1) In the majority of Swedish municipalities the PSS are nowadays specialized. 2) The formal organizational structure of PSS is always challenged by the employees’ spontaneous organising process that goes in an opposite direction. 3) Only the integrated (generic) organisation emphasizes social workers professional competence and knowledge. 4) Social workers, as a professional group, have the collective power to (to a certain degree) influence political decisions on what kind of PSS organisation is chosen in their municipality. 5) Regardless of organisation model, social workers’ method use is more unspecific than specific. 6) Social workers, in general, place significantly more weight on working with clients’ relationships and aspects of trust than on (specific or unspecific) working methods. 7) A holistic (generic) view of a client can only exist in a direct relationship between social worker and the individual and a unique client. It seems difficult to build in holism into primarily specialised organisations. 8) One may question whether a specialised organisation leads to specialisation of its employees in a way that they become experts on specific problems.

The three organisational models are not equally good. Neither the specialised organisation nor the combined organisation is able to create economic or organisational conditions for working with clients that are clearly experienced as good. This also holds true for assessment of need, possibilities to make relevant interventions, such as building relationships. Those two organisations show several deficits regarding work with clients.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2010. 110 p.
Series
Studier i socialt arbete vid Umeå universitet : avhandlings- och skriftserie, ISSN 0283-300X ; 66
Keyword
social work, personal social services, client work, organisation, profession, knowledge, specialisation, integration, holism, genericism, Social work, personal social services, client work, organisation, profession, knowledge, specialisation, integration, holism, genericism, socialt arbete, IFO, lientarbete, organisationer, professioner, kunskap, specialisering, interration, holism, genericism
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-37663 (URN)978-91-7459-101-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-12-10, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Specialisering eller integration av socialtjänstens individ- och familjeomsorg. Effekter på insatser och resultat.
Available from: 2010-11-19 Created: 2010-11-11 Last updated: 2010-11-19Bibliographically approved

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Perlinski, MarekBlom, BjörnMorén, Stefan

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