3.7 Perspectives on practice: building relationships
Listen to the following audio file ‘Reflections: Anne Farmer’.
This is an excerpt from an interview with Anne Farmer, who acted as chair of the conference that was the subject of the Case Study for the previous activity (Activity 9).
Transcript: ‘Reflections: Anne Farmer’
Karen, Sarah's mother, found it difficult to hear what had been written in the report, and was not used to the form of language used to describe some of the professional perceptions of the difficulties with Sarah.
In another part of the interview, Anne Farmer pointed out that parents do disagree, particularly around the identification of the risks. This is because these can at times be the cause of concern for professionals involved.
Parents hearing this can feel as though they are a failure as a parent. It can make them feel undermined. Therefore, it is a very difficult balance. Professionals need to be honest with parents about what needs to be different and what needs to be changed, in order for the situation to move forward.
It was difficult for Karen to hear that she hadn't been a very consistent parent, and that her daughter was involved in sexual exploitation. But actually, for Karen, who was placing herself at quite significant risk, that was all very real.
The impact of Sarah's experience with her mother had been very difficult. They had had a conflicting and difficult relationship.
Now read the Case Study ‘Sarah, Karen and John’.
These extracts illustrate different perspectives on social work relationships. They differ on a personal level because the individuals are clearly very different people and each illustrates a different ‘take’ on the nature of the relationship that is being discussed. But they also differ because of the social position that each individual occupies.
Anne Farmer gives a clear explanation of her perspective as chair of a multi-professional child protection conference. Her relationship with service users is distanced and framed by agency requirements to ensure that the conference proceeds effectively. John, Sarah and Karen are much more involved with each other and have an ongoing need to negotiate a working relationship that is maintained through the ups and downs of a child protection intervention. They all need to negotiate with each other using the different levels of power that their position affords them. The final activity in this course returns to the panel discussion to explore these issues.