A Retrospective Critical Analysis of Family Support in Practice within a Residential Care Setting
The article is based on a practice task, which was completed as part of the Higher Diploma/Masters in Family Support Studies at NUI Galway. The practice task explored in this article was conducted in a residential care unit that specialised in working with children and families. The care team based in the unit strived to provide more than traditional residential care, recognising that though the child was no longer residing at home, the family was still central in the child's life and thus should be included in all aspects of the child's development. As the unit was in a period of transition, there was concern among the team that in adapting to the change, the level of reflective practice decreased. The author, in responding to the concerns of the team, identified a reflective task that incorporated the strengths within the team yet would provide an opportunity to evaluate practice. The practice task identified was a reflective workshop in which the care team concentrated on one piece of practice and evaluated its impact on the child and family. The workshop examined speech and language work that the unit had engaged in and case vignettes were identified to facilitate a reflective discussion. The article begins with locating the practice task in family support theory and highlighting the principles of family support that were reflected in the task. The task reflected five of the practice principles of family support as outlined by Dolan et al. (2006). The primary principle reflected in the task and explored in this article is the importance of building measures of evaluation into practice based on the outcomes of service users. The article highlights the importance of reflection and how a reflective approach promotes greater levels of partnership and consultation with the service users and their families.
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