The UK isa multicultural society which contains over 300 languages and has at least 50non ingenious communities (Wood, Landry, andBloomfield 2006). UK being a melting pot for so many cultures, has resultedin a multitude of challenges for state agencies, these include a lack ofunderstanding of the cultural practices and beliefs of the users (Asquith,Clark and Waterhouse 2005). Regrettably, in the field of social work it isassumed that humans possess the same characteristics and the same rules andpractices applies for all. However unfortunately humans do not have uniformedexperiences with varied cultural and social beliefs, which challenges thecharacteristic of sameness within the practice social work practice in recenttimes. Ethnicityand RaceRace istraditionally defined with respect to differences in skin color, type of hairand facial features that are used as markers for ascribing differences.
Whereas,ethnicity refers to the group membership in which the defining features is thecharacteristic of shared cultural traditions and heritage (Chavez, A.F. & Guido?DiBrito, 1999). Thereforeit can be concluded that race refers to quantitative aspects of one’s physicalfeatures and ethnicity refers to the qualitative aspect of an individual suchas nationality, language. Within thecontext of social work due to the impact that race within the UK has given riseto anti-racism social work. Anti-racism social work has highlighted the factorsthat has evolved due to inequality, oppression and discrimination (Tedam 2013).The paper further states anti-racism social work policy addresses the issues ofboth race and ethnicity and in order to succeed in a multicultural environment.
In a study conducted by (Tedam 2013) that involved students of social work whichseek to understand social work student’s account of their own identities andhow it has an impact on them as aspiring social workers. It was concluded inthe study that in order for social workers to provide unbiased and efficientservice in a multi-cultural/race/ethnic environment, there need to be”Continued Professional Development which updates social work practitioners ofnew developments around racial inequalities and Professional CapabilitiesFramework (PCF) must include a core element of blackness, migration anddiaspora studies, to render complete the academic and practice based scrutinyof historical and contemporary manifestations of racism.” A key understandingof one’s ethnicity and race and its impact on the outlook and services providedto clients. Research such as (Bender et.al 2010) highlights the impact how one’s cultural background and the responsivein the profession. The results indicate that there is a direct relationship andin order to obtain the best results on needs to have continued education about self-awareness.The growthof a multi-cultural society within the UK has given rise to the concept of”cultural competence” in the field of social work.
Cultural competence providesa guided framework to practitioners’ in order to eliminate bias and fosterunderstanding for social workers and users. Culture is undeniably a factor ininfluencing ones behavior. Users and social workers, throughout their liveswere exposed to their own cultural beliefs which influences their outlook onlife, which result in them imposing their beliefs on users. This is classifiedas atomism in social work, which is defines as a state of consciousness towhich we have privilege access (Fay 1996). In the context of social workers,whom have a background of their own beliefs and will unintentionally imposebiases and be judgmental towards users and take what we belief to be an expertstance which the social worker may imposing their own beliefs.
Practitionersneed to be cognizant when assessing a case, and should contemplate the culturalcontext which a behavior develops. If not adequately guided social workers canmake judgements on other cultures that are based on their own ethnic backgroundand cultures, which may have exposed them to stereotyping cultures that theywere not previously exposed.Framework of Cultural competency and itsimpact on social work practice UK is a cultural diverse society and in order for social workers todeliver optimal services, it is necessary for social workers to be aware ofvarious cultures beliefs and practices, through a framework called culturalcompetence (Simmons et. al, 2008: Davis & Donald, 1997). Definitions of cultural competence highlightsfactors such as the integration andtransformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people intospecific standards, policies, practices, and attitudes used in appropriatecultural settings to increase the quality of services, thereby producing betteroutcomes(Betancourt, et.
al. 2016). Additionally,authors have stated that cultural competence as practice depends, amongst otherthings, on an understanding and appreciation of the impact of faith and belief(Gilligan et. al.
2006). The frameworks for cultural competence have varieddefinitions which depends on having an understanding about the individualsunderstanding. Importance of Cultural Competence in SocialWorkRace and ethnicity is an important variable in the treatment of a userwithin a multicultural society as it establishes their profile as an individualand there outlook on circumstances. A social worker that is culturallycompetent is able to foster an environment of inclusion for individuals orgroups that are marginalized as a result of ethnic background and culturalbeliefs. Based on the research conducted two methods are primarily used to assessusers are reflective and assessment models (Furness & Gilligan, 2010). (Furness& Gilligan, 2010) highlights that these methods of information collectionis used to aid in the collection of information and the understanding ofspecific service users’ strengths, needs and circumstances (Isaacs & Benjamin,1991; Purnell & Paulanka, 1998; Hodge, 2001, 2005; Hogan-Garcia, 2003). Reflectivemodels are aids the social worker to develop relevant skills and awareness ofthe situation, whereas assessment models aid in the collection of information andthe understanding of specific issues and circumstances. These methodsfacilitates discussions between the social worker and the users and aids inproviding a better understanding to groups that do not confirm to customarybeliefs within the context of traditional UK society.
The use of assessment ofmodel in the achievement of cultural competence can be superior to the use ofreflective model. The assessment model allows for the understanding of theunique situation for that particular end user of the system. This provides the advantagethat there is more room for an open discussion with the individual and fostersa greater understanding of the situation in order for social workers to make aspecific judgement towards that particular case. Additionally, with a room thatfosters open discussion, it will foster trust between the user and thepractitioner. Whereas for the reflectivemodels the social worker is seeking a general understanding of the situation. Giventhat each person’s perception of the world is based on their individual ethnicbackground and race, the reflective model will give a general overview and willnot provide the social worker with specific details about that individual.Furnessand Gillian (2010) developed a framework that took the approach of using bothreflective and assessment framework within the UK.
The framework includedhaving basic guidelines in achieving cultural competence. This frameworkinvolves not just having an understanding of the users beliefs and uniquesituation, but also having an understanding of the one’s own self beliefs andhow these beliefs can have an impact on your interaction and by extension yourperformance as a social worker.A mixapproach was proposed towards attaining cultural competence (Furness &Gillian 2010).
They conducted a study to assess the competence of the structurein achieving cultural competence among students enrolled in a MA Social Workprogramme. The students were placed withvarious cases of persons with varied beliefs and were encouraged to use theframework. At the end of the study it was stated “Piloting the framework withstudents indicated that it can help to develop a greater self-awareness andrecognition of the impact of individuals’ personal beliefs. Underestimating orignoring the place of religion can result in the loss of opportunities to makereal differences”(Furness & Gilligan 2010). The authors stated theimportance for social workers to be self-aware of their own beliefs which has adirect impact on their performance and outlook on varied situations.
Otherstudies that were conducted such looked at cultural competence with respect toreligion and beliefs and the intersection of social work (Gilligan 2003:Furness, S. 2012: Gilligan & Furness 2006: Gilligan2009) and have concluded that more attention needs to be paid toward religionwithin social work practice in order to attain optimal outcome for clients.In orderto mitigate against bias when dealing with various cultures, the UK hasestablished a framework to address the conduct of social workers when facedwith situations of dealing with users from various cultures and vulnerablegroups. The frameworks is embedded in the training of social workers, whichattempts sensitized social workers to dealwith persons from other cultures this is in order to negotiate various issuesthat may arise due to opposing beliefs and cultures. The establishment of training frameworkswhich guides social workers is expected to decrease unintended bias or imposingour own beliefs on clients. Moving ForwardThe fieldof social work required for practitioners to have an understanding of oneselfand one’s customary beliefs to provide optimal results to cases that are consignedto the social worker. This is in order to relief social workers of biases thatare brought on by their own cultural beliefs and ethnic background.
Proposedframework such as Furness and Gillian is based on engaging the users and socialwork practitioners trying to gain an understanding of the experiences of theclients centered on dialogs with clients in a familiar setting. Inorder tohave the continued advancement of the profession there is a need to constantlydo training and reflect on one’s own experiences and cultural beliefs and becognizant on how it has an impact on how cases are managed.