Student Handbook Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – Bryson Care Practice Learning Centres and the Social Work Key Roles and Social Work Standards

The practice learning requirements referred to in this handbook are designed to ensure that students will have the opportunity to demonstrate ethical practice, professional competence and professional responsibility and accountability.  The ethical practice is the foundational value base of respect, protecting service users’ rights, building trust and promoting the interests and independence of service users and is built into the NISCC Standards of Conduct for Social Work Students (2015).  Upon this foundation rests professional competence, responsibility and accountability that have been encapsulated into 6 key roles:

  • Maintain Professional Accountability.
  • Practise Professional Social Work.
  • Promote engagement and participation.
  • Assess needs, risks and circumstances.
  • Plan for Person Centred Outcomes.
  • Take actions to achieve change.

These key roles are further broken down further into 20 social work standards (practice foci) which reflect the National Occupational Standards of Social Work (2011).  It is these practice standards that students will be required to demonstrate during their practice learning period (for further additional detail on these please refer to the Regional PLO Handbook Part 2).  Bryson will ensure that sufficient opportunities are provided for students to demonstrate each of these practice standards which have to be demonstrated in both practice learning periods. 

Bryson Care Meeting the Evidence Requirements

The type and range of work expected of students will vary and will relate to the individual needs of each student.  All students will be invited to engage fully in the supervisory process.  They will be encouraged to develop and demonstrate their knowledge, skills and values across a wider range of work reflecting the totality of the social work process and throughout the whole period of practice learning.  This will include various reflective and evaluative tasks to assist with learning, examples of which are contained at the end of this handbook.  From this assessed work, students will produce evidence of their practice which will meet the practice standards referred to above.  (The Degree in Social Work is specific as to the minimum evidence required from students and this is outlined in the Regional PLO Handbook Part 2).  There will be ample opportunity for students to meet these formal evidence requirements.  These include tuning-ins, observations of their practice, assessments, and risk assessments, plans of work, reviews, evaluations, agency records and feedback from service users. 

There are slight variations between the two practice learning periods. These will be further clarified and planned within the original learning plan, negotiated early in the practice learning period.  They will be negotiated between students and practice teachers in relation to student learning needs and with the full and clear agreement of service users. 

There are standardised pro-formas for the tuning-ins, observations and evaluations which can be accessed from the student and PT toolkit on the following website www.nidswp.net.  These are part of the agency systems and ways of working and will be available for students to complete as they move through the social work process with their service users.  Bryson have developed its own pro-formas for recording assessments, care plans and reviews and these will also used by students.  For example the Family Support Service is engaged after an assessment has been completed by a statutory social worker.  This triggers an initial needs assessment meeting (which also includes a risk assessment) involving the service user, the social worker and a member of staff from Family Support.  At this meeting an individual support plan is negotiated and agreed and taken forward with Bryson and the service user.  With the agreement of service users the student will act on behalf of the agency in offering this support programme. 

At the beginning of this work, students will be expected to further refine the assessment with the service user, making sure that they are agreeable to their involvement, re-contracting the work and assessing any issues around learning needs, motivation and resistance and seeking to establish a positive working relationship based on respect.  A trigger exercise is included in the student work sheets to help the student begin to think about some of the value and power issues in assessing and planning work with service users.  Similarly, other work carried out with Bryson Services and partner agencies will also involve initial assessment and planning. 

Bryson’s work is led by the needs of its service users and other stakeholders such as social services and the Family Court.  The opportunities for learning will be ongoing and continuous and it will greatly benefit students if they maintain a reflective log of their experiences, insights, dilemmas, as they arise during the placement.  Opportunities for innovative and creative work will be sought. 

Identifying Yourself and Obtaining Service User Consent

Bryson and its partner agencies will ensure that you are introduced to all potential service users and that your role and responsibilities as a student are clarified and that you are provided with official identification demonstrating your status as a social work student.  In some circumstances, you may engage with service users individually and formal introductions may not be possible. 

In engaging and beginning to work with service users Bryson and its partner agencies expect that you:

  • Properly identify yourself as a social work student working under supervision on behalf of the relevant agency.  (See NISCC Standards of Conduct for Social Work Students 2015)
  • Obtain consent in accordance with the guidelines laid down by NISCC for observing or undertaking social work practice including assessment of needs/risk for service users, carers and families.
  • Do not initiate, alter or stop a care programme for any service user or carer without prior discussion and approval from your on-site supervisor / facilitator or line manager

You will also be required to obtain the informed consent of any service user if you wish to use any aspect of your practice with them for the purposes of evidence for your Degree in Social Work requirements.  All materials /records used as evidence for university/college purposes should be anonymised and agreed with the practice educator/assessor and line manager. However now that there is no necessity to provide an evidence folder – all agency evidence remains within the agency and is assessed as being of competent by the onsite supervisor/line manager.

The beginning of the Practice Learning Opportunity

For the below information, please refer to the Bryson Care Practice Learning Customer Service Standards on our website www.brysongroup.org

  • Role of the Practice Teacher
  • Expectations from students
  • Pre-placement arrangements
  • Induction period
  • Supervision
  • Initial Practice Learning Agreement Meeting
  • Mid-Point Review Meeting
  • Direct Observations
  • Completion of the Placement
  • Complaints Procedure

Students will be required to complete a ‘Tuning In’ exercises (as outlined later in this handbook) within 2 to 3 weeks to show their understanding of the purpose and role of Bryson or the relevant partner agency.  This work should enable students to think through and reflect on some of the practice issues they will face during their practice learning period. 

Problems or Difficulties

Bryson recognises the pressure that students are under in successfully completing their period of practice learning and wish to provide every support and encouragement towards their continued learning and development.  If difficulties are emerging it is important that these are openly addressed and action agreed by all parties as soon as possible.  In order for this process to work effectively it is essential that students and agency staff are aware of their rights and responsibilities in managing these issues.

Students are encouraged to raise any concerns that arise in relation to the practice learning opportunity in supervision.  Where these cannot be satisfactorily resolved in this forum the Programme tutor will be consulted and their advice/guidance sought.

Students are governed by the policies and standards of Bryson Care and the NISCC Standards of Conduct for Social Work Students (2015) during their practice learning opportunity.  Any breach of these may result in the termination of their practice.

Bryson Care reserves the right to terminate any placement with justification and within the Protocols laid down by the N. I. Social Work Degree Partnership, which are outlined in the Regional Practice Learning Handbook.

Statement of Confidentiality

  • We protect student’s privacy within their time on placement with Bryson, through the supervision process, both individual and group.
  • We adhere to the Bryson Data Protection Policy in relation to transfer and storage of customer information. 
  • Students will receive a copy of Bryson Care Practice Learning Centre Privacy Notice at the start of their placement.
  • The parameters of confidentiality, implicit within the NISCC Standards also apply to students placed within Bryson Practice Learning Centre. 

Key Contact

Siobhán Wylie (PLC Belfast)

Bryson House 28 Bedford Street Belfast BT2 7FE

Caoimhe Harkin MacDermott (PLC L/Derry)

Gortfoyle House 104-108 Spencer Road L/Derry BT47 6AG
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