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Collaborative Working

Introduction

During my final year postings as a student social worker, I happened to witness and be part of collaborative working in an inter-professional environment. I am going to analyse collaborative working in relation to the scenario that I witnessed. My focus in this discussion of collaborative working will be on the social services. Dictionary definition of 'to collaborate' is to work together. Health professionals have been debating the merits of collaborative practice over the past decade, a period during which NHS reforms have been implemented (DoH 1990, 1992, 1993, 1999) addressing the issue (Whitehead 2001). An area of particular interest has been the varying levels of teamworking that currently exist, from interdisciplinary to multi-agency collaboration. In my context of work, multi-agency collaboration is vital for delivering a holistic, client centred care. Collaboration between health care professionals like doctors, nurses, health visitors and social services along with other agencies like school authorities and care home managers is quite crucial for addressing the needs of special group like the 'looked after children'. First part of this paper briefly describes about a scenario involving a looked after child, in which collaborative working was needed to meet the complex needs of the child. Second part is an attempt to critically analyse the collaborative working, different perspectives and theories, advantages and disadvantages of collaborative working

Conclusions

As a member of a collaborative working team, I was able to realise my own skills, potential and abilities. But I also realised that I need training, both formal and informal, to work effectively in inter-professional collaboration. My experience as a collaborative worker contributed greatly towards my personal and professional development. Collaborative working has its own advantages and disadvantages but used effectively, collaboration can help to provide better services to service users and carers. To be effective as collaborative workers, professionals need training, sharing of knowledge and continued dialogue among themselves. Much wider and more encompassing health promoting initiatives are required and especially those that encourage shared knowledge. Client must be considered as equal member of the collaborative team. Collaborative practises alone are unable to mitigate the effects of health inequalities, but working inter-professionally, understanding and respecting the perspectives and views of other groups would definitely help in providing a holistic client centred service.

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