Child Neglect: Practice Issues for Health and Social Care

By Julie Taylor; Brigid Daniel | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven
Neglect
No Monopoly on Expertise

Helen Buckley

Multidisciplinary involvement in child neglect, in fact in all protection and welfare work, is a notion that has been long debated and promoted. As a desirable way of working, it is cited regularly in reviews of child abuse cases and child protection systems and its absence is constantly identified as an underlying cause of poor outcomes and outputs. However, it is also a concept that is heavily laced with assumptions and implications and open to many different interpretations. Inevitably, any social assessment or intervention will be multidisciplinary in the sense that the different domains and dimensions of a person's environment will be considered and will undoubtedly compel some level of communication with, or participation of, a variety of staff whose views or input will be sought. The defining element of multidisciplinary work is essentially the process that is operated, which can vary considerably from case to case and terms such as 'pooling' skills and perspectives can be so loose as to be meaningless. The term 'multidisciplinary assessment', for example, can be interpreted to mean one person carrying out an assessment in the course of which he or she will seek the views of other relevant professionals specializing in different areas. Alternatively, it could be understood as a one-person co-ordinated assessment, where different elements are carried out by a selected group of professionals within their own frameworks for practice but remain the responsibility of the co-ordinator who will draw conclusions from it. Or, it could mean a multidisciplinary group carrying out a joint assessment of one situation using different pieces of an agreed approach and jointly deciding on outcomes and recommendations. The same rationalizing can be applied to interventions into child protection and welfare cases, where, essentially, the crucial questions are how aware each professional is of the involvement of other

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