Mastering Approaches to Diversity in Social Work – An Interview with Linda Gast and Anne Patmore

“On the whole newly qualified social workers are not very confident in talking about diversity. It is an area that receives considerable attention during training, but there is often a sense that there is a ‘right answer’ and people are frightened of speaking for fear of getting it wrong. Most people do not want to offend anyone else, so become self-monitoring and wary of the subject. It is only in a spirit of learning – where we can all get things wrong on occasion, and need others to be able to point things out and explain why particular words, phrases or behaviours are not acceptable to them – that we are then able to modify our own behaviours.”

Kieran O’Hagan on Competence in Social Work Practice

“…why is it that a very small number of social workers who have striven so hard to qualify and who have demonstrably proven their competence at the end of their training fail to maintain it in practice? […] It certainly cannot happen overnight. The reports often expose terrible working conditions, e.g., inadequate supervision and resources, and unrealistic caseloads (and that’s even without mention of exceedingly difficult and often intimidating clients). All of these factors may adversely affect the worker’s level of performance, and in some cases, make it virtually impossible to maintain the level of competence already achieved in practice placements, and amply recorded and demonstrated in workers’ portfolio. Therein I believe, lies both the problem and the solution…”