3 ‘Tools’ for examining the knowledge, values and beliefs underpinning your practice
3.1 Using a framework to think about communication between professionals
The objective of this activity is:
to use a variety of tools to help you examine your practice.
Table 1: Framework for professional communication
|Each team member is actively involved and actively listening: sharing information; altering activities to achieve a common purpose; making formal links. Team members are empowered.||Mutual support within team by members. Common links. Shared identity.||Management of team – control hierarchy. Control is maintained by individual team members within areas or across the team – manage conflict.||Educating team members to participate. ‘Teaching’ of a specific aspect of team participation – instruction takes place within the team.||Passively participating by learning within the team. Some team members are passive – there to learn and gather information, not to contribute.||Passively listening to other team members – isolation from or within team. Team members are dis-empowered.|
Read the case studies below, and then note your answers to the questions that follow.
Case study 1: Sarah
Sarah is five and a half years old. She has been experiencing behavioural difficulties in the reception class at school. She has been referred to the school Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO), who is acting as her key worker and has arranged a meeting with Sarah's parents. Sarah attends an after-school club twice a week, and for three other days she is picked up by her childminder. The childminder wishes to be involved in the meeting at school, and has suggested that the after-school club be informed about any discussions that take place. The SENCO, acting as the key worker, arranges and keeps records of all the meetings. She is the point of contact for the team involved in supporting Sarah.
Case study 2: Mark
Mark is four years old. He has difficulty communicating. He has a few words, which he sometimes uses in context. He has many difficulties resulting from obsessive behaviours, and his parents find him very difficult to manage. He was referred to the child development centre by his health visitor and the playgroup leader at the age of three, where he was assessed by a speech therapist who recognised that his difficulties were more complex than purely speech. He was referred by the speech therapist to other members of the multi-disciplinary team. He was provided with speech therapy once a week and he was referred as an urgent case to the home-visiting team. An initial visit was arranged to the home by a teacher and an educational psychologist to discuss his behavioural difficulties and his sleep problems. As he was finding playgroup difficult, he was assigned a support assistant in his playgroup for one hour each morning. However, his behaviour deteriorated and he started receiving support for the anxiety and panic he was experiencing. The educational psychologist saw him again and agreed to begin the assessment at his parents’ request.
(Adapted from Wolfendale and Wooster, 1992, pp.134–5)
How does the practice in each case study fit on the framework for communicating with other professionals shown in Table 1? Explain why you think it fits into particular categories of the framework.
Explain how the professionals in each case study collaborate together. What does this tell you about the importance they place on sharing information and skills?
Why do you think they believe the sharing of information and skills to be important?
It is not always easy to identify where a particular description of practice fits within a framework. For example, in Case study 1, if you focus on different members of the team, you might come to different conclusions:
The childminder wants to be actively involved, sharing information and working with everyone else for a common purpose, placing this person most appropriately in the ‘Collaboration’ category.
The SENCO might be perceived as having a more ‘managerial’ model, by controlling the process and everyone else taking responsibility within their own area, placing the SENCO most appropriately in the ‘Manager’ category.
The staff in the after-school club will be informed of decisions rather than involved in the decision-making process, placing them most appropriately in the ‘Listener’ category.
In deciding how to categorise the team as a whole, it is necessary to look at all the team's members. This is not easy, and different people might come to different conclusions. However, the process of trying to categorise the team's practice will help to make explicit underlying knowledge, values and beliefs. The activity in the next subsection asks you to apply the framework for professional communication in Table 1 to your own practice.