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An introduction to social work in Wales
An introduction to social work in Wales

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6 The Rimmer Pyramid

The Rimmer Pyramid (Figure 9) is a tool for understanding the Welsh context and anti-discriminatory practice. It complements Thompson’s PCS analysis above, but asks the practitioner to explore their own practice, helping them to identify how they can be more effective in taking account of the context in which they practice.

Figure 9 The Rimmer Pyramid

We will use the example of mental health, but you could use the pyramid to help promote anti-discriminatory practice in any area of practice.

At the base of the pyramid, the social worker would need to make themselves aware of any relevant legislation and policy that would place duties on them or their colleagues. They would therefore need to know about the Mental Health Acts 1983 and 2007, which relate largely to compulsory powers and discharge from hospital. The Mental Health (Wales) Measure would advise and define the underpinning principles of what is required from services and the support that should be available; and the mental health strategy Together for mental health outlines how the requirements of the Measure will be implemented. Being mindful of the ‘active offer’ principle (CCW, 2014) and the Welsh Language Act 1993, the social worker would also need to take appropriate steps to ensure they accurately identified the service user’s language need and preference.

In carrying out a community profile, the social worker could identify how many people in the local community have mental health problems, and explore what services are available (statutory, voluntary and community-based). They may also ask themselves what other factors impact on a person’s mental wellbeing in the community. For example, is it an area of high unemployment or deprivation?. The social worker may also explore ways of combatting stigma with regard to mental health, perhaps tapping into community groups to promote inclusion.

The culture within the social worker’s team may also impact on the practice of individual practitioners. It can be difficult to implement national policies if team members themselves have difficulties with aspects of mental health or ill-health, behave in a discriminatory fashion, or hold discriminatory views. Most teams, of course, will not operate in this way, but sometimes personal and professional values conflict and it can be beneficial to explore these as a team, promoting development and good practice.

At the peak of the pyramid, the practitioner is asked to explore their own values and personal attitudes to mental health, and to reflect on their own practice. Reflection can take us by surprise, and we may discover that our own practice is in some way discriminatory, or that we find it difficult or easy to empathise with someone experiencing mental health difficulties, depending on our own experiences.

The pyramid is therefore a tool that can help the practitioner to focus on the context in which they practice, at every level – personal, cultural, and structural.