Participation and partnership: the development of a social work model of service delivery for consumers and carers living with schizophrenia

Flanagan, Catherine (2007) Participation and partnership: the development of a social work model of service delivery for consumers and carers living with schizophrenia. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The primary intention of the research reported in this thesis was to develop a model of social work service delivery within one mental health service, Lantana Integrated Mental Health Service (LIMHS), that would prioritise the development of participation and partnerships in service delivery, planning and evaluation for consumers diagnosed with schizophrenia and their carers as stipulated under Standard 3 of the National Standards for Mental Health Services (1996). In order to undertake this task, ethnographic case study research was employed which incorporated focus group discussions and individual semi-structured interviews. The intent was that any proposed model, arising from the research would be capable of operationalisation within the existing structure of LIMHS. Research participants consisted of three members of management, a community development worker, twelve social workers, fourteen consumers and fourteen carers either working or receiving services at LIMHS.

The findings of this study indicate that LIMHS experiences many constraints to implementing participation and partnership policy expectations. The primary themes which emerged from the consumers’ and carers’ discourses were about their powerlessness in relation to psychiatry and bureaucracy, and the importance of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, to help them address their social, emotional and material needs rather than continue a strict focus on bio-medical issues and solutions. This research uncovered a more respectful stance towards social work as demonstrated by consumers and carers than the respect social workers afford themselves. Using structuration theory (Giddens, 1984) this study found that social workers position themselves precariously between an overt demonstration of collusion with psychiatry in the workplace and a more covert alliance with their own codes and methods of practice in the intimate shared space of consumer and carer engagement.

This study found many anomalies and tensions within a third way (Giddens, 1998)politics when applied to the field of mental health. The findings of this case study suggest that consumers and carers are exposed to legal, medical and social structures, and third way policies which fail them. These conclusions have implications for socially just social work practice. This thesis culminates in the presentation of a proposed model of social work practice at LIMHS.

Item ID: 8128
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: social work model, social work practice, social workers, mental health professionals, service delivery, social justice, mental health services, schizophrenia, patients, carers, consumers, participation, partnerships, empowerment, disempowerment
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2010 06:20
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111714 Mental Health @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160701 Clinical Social Work Practice @ 50%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940104 Carers Development and Welfare @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920209 Mental Health Services @ 50%
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