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The Adult Care Workforce: Personalization

Introduction

Personalization is a paradigm in the social care system that focuses on improving the quality of social care that social workers provide. Burton, Toscano, and Zonouzi (2012) define personalization as a way of addressing the needs and desires of individuals by ensuring that they have the right advice, information, and advocacy for them to make informed choices about social care (p. 39). In essence, personalization starts with the understanding of individuals followed by the customization of social care to fit their needs and desires. In modern society, personalization is central to the provision of social care services because the needs of adults are not only diverse but also dynamic. Assessment of personalization offers pertinent information that enhances understanding of the social care services. Therefore, this assessment discusses major concepts of personalization such as effective partnership working, positive risk-taking, safeguarding, philosophical theories, and decision-making in the provision of social care services to adults.

Effective Partnership Working

The health care systems across the world experience the challenge of fragmentation, which hinders the delivery of healthcare services. The health care systems have now realized the challenges posed by fragmentation and have decided to create effective partnership working. Petch (2012) describes partnership working as a collaboration of individuals and agencies in the delivery of healthcare and social services owing to the understanding of diverse roles, sharing of culture, and responsiveness to needs of the special groups in personalization (p. 81). Central to partnership working is the personalization of healthcare and social care services. Evidently, the current reforms in the social care system require the personalization of social care services to meet the diverse and unique needs of adults. In this perspective, social workers play a central role in reforming the social care system by personalizing the social care services that they offer to adults.

In the United Kingdom, healthcare services and social care services existed in different divisions during the 1950s and 1960s. The realization of the need to provide social care services led to the establishment of social services department in each local authority to provide comprehensive social care services that are accessible to adults. However, the department operated separately from the National Health Service, hence, hindering the effective provision of social care services to adults. In the early 21st century, the government advocated for the integration of the social service and the health service to improve the effectiveness of service delivery (Petch, Cook, and Miller, 2013, p. 78). In a partnership working, agencies in local authorities and the National Health Service decided to collaborate in the provision of healthcare services and social care services. In 1999, the government implemented the Health Act 1999 and established an integrated agency called Care Trust to provide joint services that include social care services, healthcare services, and health-related services (Glasby, Dickinson, and Miller, 2011, p. 3). Care Trust creates effective partnership working because it enables National Health Service and local authorities to exploit their synergies and offer holistic care services to adults.

Partnership working is a reform agenda in the social care system that aims to influence policies, legislations, mobilization of resources, and delivery of services. Glasby, Dickinson, and Miller (2011) argue that for social care agencies and the National Health Service to establish effective partnership working, they should establish a framework that links individual, organizational, and structural levels of partnership (p. 3). The existence of different roles, responsibilities, and professions complicates partnership working. At the organizational level, different partners should formulate a framework, which provides for the working relationships. The creation of mergers or joint commissions enhances effective partnership working. The structural level is central to partnership working because it provides a framework that anchors partners and defines their working relationships. The government should formulate policies and legislation aimed at eliminating legal, bureaucratic, and administrative barriers. However, the creation of partnership working has some difficulties as it requires huge resources, takes a long time to realize benefits, and disrupts functions of individual partners.

Positive Risk-Taking

Social workers often grapple with the challenge of assessing risks and alleviating them among adults. Positive risk-taking stems from the risk theory, which requires social workers to weigh their interventions before implementing them to determine costs and benefits. Given that adults experience diverse risks and have different social needs, social workers usually personalize social care services after weighing the benefits and costs of their respective interventions. Davies (2012) describes positive risk-taking as an approach that social workers apply in taking risks, designing strategies, and alleviating harm to promote health, educational, and welfare outcomes (p. 59). The approach of positive risk-taking promotes the personalization of social care services for it requires social workers to boost knowledge, skills, and understanding of social needs. Since personalization aims to empower adults to make informed choices about their needs and desires, positive risk-taking empowers them to be risk managers. When social workers employ positive risk-taking in their delivery of services, adults become risk managers for they can make informed decisions regarding the nature of social care services they receive. Thus, positive risk-taking is an important concept in the personalization of social care services.

Positive risk-taking is inseparable from personalization since social workers ought to make decisions about the risks they encounter in the course of personalizing social care services. Social workers should support positive risk-taking in their working environment. Analysis of the working environment of social workers indicates that they constantly experience risks owing to the nature of needs they satisfy and the interventions that they apply. For instance, social workers advise adults and their families on the physical, emotional, psychological, and economic costs involved in specific social care services. In positive risk-taking, social workers assess the history, needs, desires, and social support of adults so that they can personalize their social care accordingly. According to Burton, Toscano, and Zonouzi (2012), positive risk-taking improves outcomes of personalized social care because it enables social workers to foresee costs and benefits before the implementation of a given intervention (p. 22). Therefore, social workers who employ positive risk-taking in their personalization of social care services have better outcomes than those who do not employ it.

Fundamentally, the employment of positive risk-taking follows a structured framework. The framework details an approach that social workers should follow in the assessment of risks posed by their interventions of social care. The first step of the approach is the identification and assessment of prevailing risks. The assessment of risks is a complex process that entails the collection of views from adults, family members, and friends, determination of their strengths, and review of historical information amongst other pertinent undertakings. Resilience theory forms the basis for applying the strengths of service users in positive risk-taking. The next step is planning on how to manage risks with a view of mitigating negative outcomes and optimizing positive outcomes. After the risk management, a review of the decisions and interventions is necessary to determine if personalization is effective. Davies (2012) acknowledges that it is difficult to use the structured approach because risk-averse cultures are likely to abuse positive risk-taking and affect service delivery (p. 70). Hence, social workers require essential knowledge, skills, and experience to employ a positive risk-taking approach effectively.

Safeguarding

Safeguarding is a critical concept in social care because it elucidates the extent of positive risk-taking during personalization. In essence, positive risk-taking, personalization, and safeguarding are related concepts in social care, which social workers need to comprehend. Given that adults constitute a vulnerable population, they are prone to neglect and abuse in society and during social care. The concept of safeguarding, in this case, means that adults require enough protection from neglect and abuse. The Human Rights Act 1998 recognizes adults as the vulnerable population and underscores that they have the rights to freedom, life, and family, which are basic social needs that sustain and support individuals (Pike et al., 2010, p. 30). In the event of neglect or abuse, the adults have access to the criminal justice system, which adjudicates their rights. Adults who require safeguards are unable to live independently without their well-being deteriorating.

Safeguarding adults comprise policies, procedures, and legislation that diverse agencies have formulated in a bid to protect adults from neglect and abuse. Although society has a moral duty to protect adults from neglect and abuse, agencies have the legal mandate to initiate programs that provide social care services. Diverse agencies partner in protecting adults by planning programs, implementing them, and monitoring their progress over time. This form of partnership creates a multi-agency approach, which allows the participation of diverse stakeholders in safeguarding adults. Pike et al. (2010) assert that systems theory elucidates how safeguarding adults occurs in society (p. 33). The theory holds that individuals live in a society with social systems that influence their well-being. These social systems allow individuals to interact in society and influence their lives in diverse ways. The multi-agency approach offers comprehensive safeguarding of adults because it ensures effective personalization of social care services. Nevertheless, the difficulties associated with safeguarding are the identification of needy adults in society and adequate satisfaction of complex needs.

Philosophical Theory and Decision-Making

Numerous philosophical theories have formed the basis of personalization in the provision of social care. Person-centered theory perceives service users as having innate abilities that require optimization for them to improve their well-being. As personalization mainly focuses on the needs and desires of service users before the administration of social care, it applies person-centered theory. According to Davies (2012), the application of the person-centered theory makes social workers collaborate with service users in the process of decision-making (p. 51). Essentially, social workers educate, inform, and advise service users about their needs, desires, and requirements for their well-being. In this case, when adults have appropriate information, they can make informed decisions about their personalized social care.

The participatory theory is another philosophical theory that forms the basis of personalization in the provision of social care. The theory postulates that the gap between subjective and objective perceptions of humans creates divisions that prevent participation. As personalization of social care requires the participation of social workers and service users, the participatory theory brings the minds of social workers and services users together and creates a seamless connection between them, which promotes participation in social care. Davies (2012) asserts that the participatory model empowers service users to participate in their social care because social workers view them as partners rather than subjects (p. 59). Thus, the decision-making process becomes collaborative when social workers apply participatory theory in personalizing social care.

Conclusion

Personalization is a central practice that promotes the delivery of social care services for adults. Analysis of personalization practice among adults indicates that effective partnership working, safeguarding, and positive risk-taking improve the outcomes of social care. Moreover, person-centered and participatory theories explain how personalization occurs and decision-making ensues. Overall, personalization enhances the effectiveness of service delivery and improves social care outcomes.

References

Burton, J., Toscano, T. and Zonouzi, M. (2012) Personalization for social workers: Opportunities and challenges for frontline practice. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Davies, M. (2012) Social Work with Adults: Policy, Law, Theory, Research, and Practice. London: Palgrave McMillan.

Glasby, J., Dickinson, H. and Miller, R. (2011) ‘Partnership working in England: Where we are now and where we have come from?’, International Journal of Integrated Care, 11(1), pp. 1-8. doi:10.1258/jhsrp.2012.011127

Petch A. (2012)Tectonic plates: aligning evidence, policy and practice in health and social care integration’, Journal of Integrated Care, 20(2), pp. 77-88. Web.

Petch, A., Cook, A. and Miller, E. (2013) ‘Partnership working and outcomes: Do health and social care partnerships deliver for users and carers?’, Health and Social Care in the Community, 21(6), pp. 1-11. Web.

Pike, L., Indge, R., Lverton, C., Ford, D. and Gilbert, T. (2010) ‘Bridging the gap between learning and practice: From where we were to where we are now’, The Journal of Adult Protection, 12(2), pp. 28-38. Web.

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