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Title: A comparative study of the social work department and the community outreach team in a psychiatric setting.
Authors: Farrugia, Daniela
Keywords: Social workers
Mentally ill
Psychiatric hospital care
Mental health care teams
Issue Date: 2009
Citation: Farrugia D. (2009). A comparative study of the social work department and the community outreach team in a psychiatric setting (Master's dissertation).
Abstract: Management is continually searching for that synergy that will increase performance in the organisation. Many argue that teams provide this synergy and are crucial for an organisation's success. However, calling a group of people "a team" does not automatically make it a team, since "a team" can be differentiated from "a group" on a number of points, mainly: goals, roles, priorities, leadership and dynamics. Research shows that a problem that health care systems are facing is, that it is becoming even more difficult to provide health care that meets the needs of patients within tight budget constraints. It is suggested that a way to address this serious and real problem is to channel the energies of people more constructively to work as teams. Literature also shows that a team working approach can help to manage resources, improve task performance, learning and communication. Ingram and Desombre (1999) stress that this climate must first be set by management, who need to establish a clear vision for the future and ensure that supervisory and operational staff clearly understand these goals. They also argue that effective teamwork in not easily achieved but it is worth striving for. Since their inception, the management of the said psychiatric hospital refers to the Community Outreach Team as a "team", while the social workers are referred to as the "Social Work Department". However, as mentioned earlier, grouping a number of professionals to perform a specific task does IV not necessarily make them a team. Members of teams are required to master specific skills in order to work effectively. The study attempts to analyze the difference, if any between the Social Work Department and the Community Outreach Team, which I will refer to as a work-group and a team respectively, on the basis of how they have been labelled at this hospital since their inception. The study also attempted to find out, through qualitative methodology, any differences in group dynamics between the Social Work Department and the Community Outreach Team. Management at the psychiatric hospital seems to have the perception that the Community Outreach Team is more of a "team" and although, the Social Work Department has characteristics of a team, there are some factors which make it resemble more a "group", due mainly to the fact that social workers function both within the uni-disciplinary Social Work Department as well as within multi-disciplinary teams. Management is also greatly aware of what the barriers to the implementation of successful teams are. Management also seems to support teams, through various initiatives such as their personal intervention with different settings, support for employee training and the yearly Team of the Year A ward. What seems to be lacking is the proper selection of employees, that is, excluding those who show that they are not able to work in a team, as well as the reward of appropriate behaviours. The members of the Community Outreach Team seem to have positive relationships between themselves. They trust each other and find time to joke amongst themselves. When there is conflict, this is addressed in a constructive manner. On the other hand, although the members of the Social Work Department feel that they are on good terms with each other, most of them do not trust each other. Moreover, humour is hardly used and half of the members of the Social Work Department feel that at present conflict exists. All the members in both settings feel that their work-settings were very effective in the work that they provide, that is, all the members of both work settings feel that the work they do, produces results. However, it would be beneficial if data which can be identified as effectiveness indicator, such as re-admissions and quality of life, were appropriately captured and analysed. I believe that if these results prove the beliefs of both settings, they would feel satisfied and even more motivated apart from fulfilling the wishes of the members of both work-settings. Below, I have outlined a number of recommendations which I believe would be beneficial for both settings: • The Social Work Department should be given the opportunity to participate in team building activities. For example, more meetings should be organised, and more time should be dedicated to build good intra-departmental relationships. • Both work-settings should have better access to resources, such as: computers and journals. • There must be more direct input from management when it comes to rewarding good team behaviours. • Both settings must have access to information on both tasks and performance; and Future research should replicate the study once the above recommendations are implemented, in order to determine whether these recommendations did in fact show an improvement in teamwork, and upon the effectiveness of both work-settings. This study is the first report of its kind, which provided management of the psychiatric hospital with an in-depth perspective into the group processes of both work-settings.
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacHSc - 2009
Dissertations - FacHScHSM - 2009

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