Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

The the users. Unfortunately, in the field

The UK is
a multicultural society which contains over 300 languages and has at least 50
non ingenious communities, (Wood, Landry,
and Bloomfield 2006). UK being a melting pot for so many cultures, has resulted
in varied challenges to the state agencies, such as a lack of understanding of
the cultural practices and beleifs of the users. Unfortunately, in the field of
social work it is assumed that we are all the same and the same rules and
practices applies for all. However unfortunately humans do not have uniformed experiences
with varied cultural and social beliefs, which challenges the characteristic of
sameness within the practice social work practice in recent times. 

RACE AND
ETHNICITY and SOCIAL WORK

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Race is
traditionally defined with respect to differences in skin color, type of hair
and facial features that are used as markers for ascribing differences. Whereas
Ethnicity refers to the group membership in which the defining features is the characteristic
of shared cultural traditions and heritage (ethnic sensitive social work
practice). Therefore it can be concluded that race refers to quantitative aspects
of one’s physical features and ethnicity refers to the qualitative aspect of an
individual such as nationality, language.

Within the
context of social work due to the impact that race within the UK has given rise
to anti-racism social work. Anti-racism social work has brought to the
forefront the factors that has evolved due to inequality, oppression and discrimination
as highlighted by Rankin(….). The paper further states ant racism social work
policy addresses the issues of both race and ethnicity and in order to succeed
in a multicultural environment. In a study conducted by Rankin that involved
students of social work which seek to understand social work student’s account
of their own identities and how it has an impact on them as aspiring social
workers. It was concluded in the study that in order for social workers to
provide unbiased and efficient service in a multi-cultural/race/ethnic environment,
there need to be “Continued Professional Development which updates social work
practitioners of new developments around racial inequalities and Professional
Capabilities Framework (PCF) must include a core element of blackness,
migration and diaspora studies, to render complete the academic and practice based
scrutiny of historical and contemporary manifestations of racism.” A key
understanding of one’s ethnicity and race and its impact on the outlook and
services provided to clients.  Studies such
as Bender et. al (2010) highlights the impact how one’s cultural background and
the responsive in the profession. The results indicate that there is a direct
relationship and in order to obtain the best results on needs to have continued
education about self-awareness.

The growth
of a multi-cultural society within the UK has given rise to the concept of “cultural
competence” in the field of social work. Cultural competence provides a guided
framework to practitioners’ in order to eliminate bias and foster understanding
for social workers and users. Culture is undeniably a factor in influencing
ones behavior. Users and social workers, throughout their lives were exposed to
their own cultural beliefs which influences their outlook on life. Fay (1996)
has highlighted the idea of atomism in social work, which is defines as a state
of consciousness to which we have privilege access”. In the context of social
workers which the social workers are humans and will unintentionally impose
biases and be judgmental towards users and take what we belief to be an expert
stance which ultimately maybe the social worker imposing their own beliefs. Practitioners
need to be cognizant when assessing a case, and should consider the cultural
context which a behavior develops. If not adequately guided social workers can
make judgements on other cultures that are based on their own ethnic background
and cultures, which may have exposed them to stereotyping cultures that they
were not previously exposed.

Framework of Cultural competency and its
impact on social work practice

UK is a cultural diverse society and in order for social
workers to deliver optimal services, it is necessary for social workers to be
aware of various cultures beliefs and practices which is called cultural
competence. (Simmons et. al, 2008), (Davis & Donald, 1997). Highlights definition of
cultural competence as the integration and transformation of knowledge about
individuals and groups of people into specific standards, policies, practices,
and attitudes used in appropriate cultural settings to increase the quality of
services, thereby producing better outcomes. (Gilligan, Philip A. and Furness,
Sheila M. 2006) describes cultural competence as practice depends, amongst
other things, on an understanding and appreciation of the impact of faith and
belief. The frameworks for cultural competence from the varied definitions depends
on having an understanding about the individuals understanding.

Importance of Cultural Competence in Social
Work

Race and ethnicity is an important variable in the treatment of
a user within a multicultural society as it establishes their profile as an
individual and there outlook on circumstances. A social worker that is culturally
competent is able to foster an environment of inclusion for individuals or
groups that are marginalized as a result of ethnic background and cultural
beliefs. Based on the research conducted
two methods are primarily used to assess users while obtaining information
these are reflective and assessment models (Furness and Gilligan, 2010). (Furness
and Gilligan, 2010) highlights that these methods of information collection is
used to aid in the collection of information and the understanding of
specific service users’ strengths, needs and circumstances (Isaacs and
Benjamin, 1991; Purnell and Paulanka, 1998; Hodge, 2001, 2005; Hogan-Garcia,
2003). Reflective models are aids the social worker to develop relevant skills and
awareness of the situation, whereas assessment models aid in the collection of
information and the understanding of specific issues and circumstances. These
methods facilitates the engagement of discussion between the social worker and
the users and assist in providing a better understanding to groups that do not
confirm to customary beliefs within the context of traditional UK society. The use
of assessment of model in the achievement of cultural competence can be
superior to the use of reflective model. The assessment model allows for the
understanding of the unique situation for that particular end user of the
system. This provides the advantage that there is more room for an open
discussion with the individual and fosters a greater understanding of the situation
in order for social workers to make a specific judgement towards that
particular case. Additionally, with a room that fosters open discussion, it
will foster trust between the user and the practitioner.  Whereas for the reflective models the social
worker is seeking a general understanding of the situation. Given that each
person’s perception of the world is based on their individual ethnic background
and race, the reflective model will give a general overview and will not
provide the social worker with specific details about that individual.

Furness/Gillian
developed a framework that took the approach of using both reflective and assessment
framework within the UK. The framework included having basic guidelines in
achieving cultural competence. The guideline are illustrated in the Appendix. This
framework involves not just having an understanding of the users beliefs and
unique situation, but also having an understanding of the one’s own self
beliefs and how these beliefs can have an impact on your interaction and by extension
your performance as a social worker.

Furness/Gillian(2010)
proposed a mix approach towards attaining cultural competence. They conducted a
study to assess the competence of the framework in achieving cultural
competence among students enrolled in a MA Social Work programme.  The students were placed with various cases
of persons with varied beliefs and were encouraged to use the framework. At the
end of the study Furness/Gillian stated “Piloting the framework with students
indicated that it can help to develop a greater self-awareness and recognition
of the impact of individuals’ personal beliefs. Underestimating or ignoring the
place of religion can result in the loss of opportunities to make real
differences”. The authors stated the importance for social workers to be self-aware
of their own beliefs which has a direct impact on their performance and outlook
on varied situations. Other studies that were conducted such looked at cultural
competence with respect to religion and beliefs and the intersection of social
work (Gilligan 2003:Furness, S. 2012:
Gilligan & Furness 2006: Gilligan 2009) and have concluded that more
attention needs to be paid toward religion within social work practice in order
to attain optimal outcome for clients.

 

 

 

In order
to mitigate against bias when dealing with various cultures, the UK has
established a framework to address the conduct of social workers when faced
with situations of dealing with users from various cultures and vulnerable
groups. The frameworks is embedded in the training of social workers, which attempts
sensitized social workers  to deal with
persons from other cultures this is in order to negotiate various issues that
may arise due to opposing beliefs and cultures.  The establishment of training frameworks which
guides social workers is expected to decrease unintended bias or imposing our
own beliefs on clients.

Moving Forward

The field
of social work required for practitioners to have an understanding of oneself
and ones customary beliefs to provide optimal reults to cases that are
assigned. This is inorder to relief social workers of biases that are brought
on by their own culturl beliefs and thnic background. Proposed framework such
as Furness and Gillian is based on engaging the users and social work practitioners
trying to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of the clients based
on discussions with clients in a familiar setting. However the questions still
remains if social workers can identify with persons’ life experiences that is
vastly different from their own.

Moving Forward
sa social workers there is a need rto constantly do training and reflect on one’s
own experiences and cultural beliefs and be cognizant on how it has an impact
on how cases are managed. Additionally, within the context of social workers three
is a need for persons to be consistently supervise inorder to ensure that
framework is followed inorder for practitioners to be culturally competent and
offer the optimal services to users.

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