Essay Examining Best Practices in Macro Social Work

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Pages: 7

Examining Best Practices in Macro Social Work

March 8, 2013

The concept of “best practice” is widely used in business management, healthcare, and in the social work field to mean the most efficient and effective way of doing things: ways that use the minimum of resources and yet return the optimum results. In the context of professional social work, often there are built-in tensions between the pressure for efficiency and the need to respect the individuality of clients and to work at their pace. Social workers must take into account the complexity and the difficulty of tasks where there are no straightforward actions which could promote the welfare of one person or group without possibly causing harm, or
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The process to achieve the understanding necessary in a given situation to arrive at best practices “includes recommendations for improvement based on a value critical analysis” (Chambers, 2000 and Petr, 2009 in Walter & Petr, 2011). That value cannot come from the agency view, as had been the norm for many years and settled on by social workers who have been too long in their field without having reviewed their own methods. How to decide on best practices in macro-level social work continues to elude many well-intentioned social workers, agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) given the difficulty in attaining the needed understanding of the issue at hand. Various methods have been developed to incorporate the targeted populations during the past 15-25 years in an effort to ensure a well-defined need and the whole-hearted buy-in by that community of the procedure to be undertaken. One such process, termed community capacity building, dealing with the identification and enhancement of social capital, has recently “emerged as an important element in effective [social work] practice” (Simmons, Reynolds & Swinburn, 2011). The difficulty in defining a process related to specific issues is that “like other broad concepts such as community and social capital, the term ‘community capacity building’ is not easily captured” (p. 193). That agrees with the view expressed by Robert J. Chaskin