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Important facts on Social work

1. What is your initial response to this information and how, as a future social worker, would you proceed? What are the important facts here and why?
2. How would you gain further knowledge and evidence and decide on intervention?
3. How would you evaluate your intervention?
4. Please identify three social work values that are especially relevant to this scenario. Please explain why you think they are especially relevant.
5. Reflect on any possible conflict between personal and professional values you might have in this case. How would you deal with such a conflict if it were to arise?
6. How would you personally feel if you were expected to take on this case? Do you have any personal experiences that you can draw on to understand and deal with it?
7. What would ‘evidence based social work’ mean in this case? What kinds of evidence and how can it be used in this case?

Social work is a practice used to help the less fortunate and sick in the society. As a social worker, one is supposed to have the following values; integrity, social justice, confidentiality, service, dignity to humans, and a stable human relationship (Akhtar, 2013). In this case, Ms. Ratnayaka who is old and depressed should get the best professional service.  Public health intervention tends to be complex processes and dependent on context.

Ms. Ratnayaka needs a lot of care and attention as she has been admitted to hospital a number of times in three months. There are several critical issues arising from this situation that should be considered in order to improve her health conditions. First, her health condition has to be stabilized with the right prescription on drugs and good eating habits. She has primarily been feeding only on certain vegetables, fruits and beans but her doctor says this is not enough. As social worker, it is important to seek services from professional nutritionists for advices on her diet to reduce further weight loss. Ms. Ratnayaka is old and therefore will need special dieting program to put her back to health.

The second critical issue is her mental health condition. She suffers from depression and therefore her ability to make the right decisions on her health are made by her neighbor.  Her mental health condition makes it hard for her to take care of her needs since the loss of her husband and her son being far away from her. The third issue that is critical is how she is handling her medication (Akhtar, 2013). She has given the responsibility to her neighbor to take care of her medication and her finances. Unfortunately, the medication that the neighbor is giving her is not prescribed. This is self-medication which may lead to continued ill health.  Her neighbor who she also says is her best friend is not a health practitioner and therefore may give her wrong medication. The last critical issue is management of her finances, the role being undertaken by her neighbor now. Considering Ms. Ratnayaka mental health condition, she may have made an irrational decision of giving that mandate to her trusted neighbor and friend.

Steps on interventions

The reasons why these are critical issues is because of the following; on the first critical issue is her nutrition. Vegetables, fruits and beans are not improving her weight and therefore she should take more body building food with enough calories equivalent to meet.  Examples include boiled or fried eggs and milk with professional advice from a nutritionist (Banks, 2006). The nutritionist can also recommend energy giving foods for her body. The second issue concerning her mental health is easy to manage. As a social worker, the best treatment is medication and personal; touch. Her son in Glasgow should come home to take care of her ailing mother who is lonely due to the death of her husband. The neighbor may not necessarily be the right person to take care of her. If her son comes back from Glasgow, he will take care of her need and finances appropriately. Her son is likely to follow the prescribed medication by the doctor and managing her finances personally. The son will also give her the company she needs since she is depressed probably because of loneliness.

Intervening in this case will take a couple of steps.  For mental health patient like Ms. Ratnayaka, the following are the steps to help her get better health. First, evaluating her mental state and properly diagnosing the illness. She is suffering from depression primarily brought about by the loss of her husband and her son leaving for Glasgow (Parrott, 2010). She is lonely. After knowing the root cause of her illness, the second step is medication. She may also be taken to a professional counseling service that will help her in her emotional state. Counseling helps to reduce isolation that she may be in currently. The only friend she has is her neighbor who also responsible for giving her medication which is not prescribed (Midgley and Livermore, 2009). She is also likely to get professional perspectives and values in counseling.

The third step in the intervention process is to give Ms. Ratnayaka a time guideline or a program on nutrition and medication. Following a good nutritional program will help her gain the required weight and health (Turner, 2005). Proper medication from a doctor will also ensure that she does not take any medicine given to her by her friend. The next step is to ensure that Ms. Ratnayaka has a conducive environment necessary for her to recover. Although she might be old, it is necessary that she take precautionary measures in her medication and her nutrition. Counseling may medicate an isolated person into full recovery and health. 

How to evaluate the intervention

The reason for intervention is to give Ms. Ratnayaka the best medical attention for her recovery. Her son will give her enough attention on her health (Thyer and Wodarski, 2007). He should be asked to come and take care of his ailing mother, as this will also take her out of the loneliness she is currently having. The son will also manage her finances prudently.

There are various ways to evaluate an intervention.  The first way is to evaluate the efficiency of the interventions. It is evidence based and therefore the final output is clearly seen. This case will be evaluated based on Ms. Ratnayaki recovery period and her health. If she gets well, that Is if her body weight and mental health improves. Another way of evaluating an intervention is to vary the anticipated and unanticipated effects of the intervention.   The effects of an intervention should be anticipated while unanticipated intervention should be evidence based. Based on the interventions given to the patient, a full cycle of recovery process should be initiated for mental and physical health. 

There is no doubt that social workers have made a meaningful contribution towards making the society a better place.  A social worker can either work under an organization that helps underdeveloped nations or work on a micro level such as private practice for example providing individual counseling (Midgley and Livermore, 2009).  Five values are core in social work.

One of the values in this case is service to humanity. As a social worker, there is need to put the interest of Ms. Ratnayaka first to ensure that you help her deal with her personal issues.  Ms. Ratnayaka suffers from depression, and does not take meat and vegetables as the doctors have advised. Service to humanity is a value that is needed in this case as a social worker is expected to ensure that the client takes medication as prescribed by the doctor. A social worker is supposed to offer counseling services on a pro bono basis to Ms Ratnayaka to help her cope with life’s stresses and also ensure that she gets all the attention and care she needs.  Thus, service to humanity value encourages the social worker to spare part of their time to take care of Ms. Ratnayaka needs.

Social justice is also another value that comes in handy in this case. This means that the social worker recognizes that there are some sections of the population that need to be helped such as the underprivileged and vulnerable populations such as old people. Ms. Ratnayaka falls in the old age category and therefore she needs help. Social change efforts are primarily focused on ensuring that the vulnerable such as this woman are taken care of.

Social work values

Another value is human dignity and worth. This is core in social work, which means that they recognize the value of life. Therefore, it is critical to put aside any prejudice for the sake of helping (Webber, 2008). Hence, regardless of social background and beliefs of the client it is imperative that you put the feelings aside for the sake of helping Ms. Ratnayaka.

Today’s social worker faces many issues when dealing with their clients. Sometimes personal values are considered more important but would not be superior to professional values. However, when all is said social workers should and are expected to embrace diversity of people and values, it is a learning process, which demands willingness and time to do so. While handling this case, there are various points that personal values that should be highlighted (Sowers and Dulmus, 2008).  Firstly, a person who is depressed such as Ms. Ratnayaka should have caring people with her to give her company and care for her.  However, the situation as it is now, she is a widow and her son moved to Glasgow. I would recommend that she returns back home and take care of her ailing mother. On the other hand, this is not professional because maybe this is not possible, as the son has settled elsewhere (Humphrey, 2010).  This is one of one of the conflicts in this case because in social work one of the core values is fostering human relationships.

Another conflict arises when Ms. Ratnayaka trusts her neighbor so much with her finances and errands. It is evident that the neighbor is not offering her the help that she needs as a friend such as ensuring that she takes her medicine as prescribed or taking meals as required.  This relationship might be aggravating the situation but the client insists that she has known the neighbor for a very long time and she trusts them.  As a social worker, it is important to ensure that the client is in the company of people who will influence her in a positive way in terms of encouraging the client to take medicine (Gould, 2010).   Therefore, in this case we may have to discourage the client on trusting her neighbor, so much which will be a step in ensuring that she recovers and does not fall sick again.

 If I were to personally take up this case, I would be very excited to be given the opportunity to deal with such a case.  Ms. Ratnayaka needs a social worker who will interact with her in a good way. This ensures that there is a bond and relationship created to help the client recover from the various ailments she is suffering from. Therefore, it is important to take note and apply for the social work values such as regarding the importance of human relationships (Cox, 2007). From the experiences that I have had in the past, I would deal with this case in the following way: first, I would make sure that I build trust between Ms. Ratnayaka and I. (Weaver, 1999) This helps in making sure that the client feels very confident in taking my advice. Such patients need to be shown love as they follow doctor’s instructions on how to take their medicine and also what and how to eat.  This will help her take medicine as required and therefore heal faster, also, I would offer counseling to the client because she is depressed.

A process by which the social worker combines clinical experiences and ethics with well researched interventions is known as evidence based practice.  In this case, the patient has been in and out of the hospital three times in a span of four months. Hence, the first stage is to ensure that Ms. Ratnayaka takes her medication as required and eat well. This is the first step in making sure she is not admitted to hospital again (Sowers and Dulmus, 2008). The second step is to make sure that she gets the right people in her life that will make sure that she is well and the third step is counseling her and giving her anti-depressants to get her out of that state. In conclusion, social workers should come up with necessary interventions coupled with solutions from their past experienced to ensure that the client gets well (Berkman and Harootyan, 2003).


Akhtar, F. (2013). Mastering social work values and ethics. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Banks, S. (2006). Ethics and values in social work. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Midgley, J. and Livermore, M. (2009). The handbook of social policy. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Berkman, B. and Harootyan, L. (2003). Social work and health care in an aging society. New York: Springer.

Cox, C. (2007). Dementia and social work practice. New York: Springer Pub.

Germain, C.B. and Gitterman, A., 1996. The life model of social work practice: Advances in theory & practice. Columbia University Press.

Gould, N. (2010). Mental health social work in context. London: Routledge.

Humphrey, C. (2010). Becoming a Social Worker. London: Sage Publications.

Lohmann, R. and Lohmann, N. (2002). Social administration. New York: Columbia University Press.

Parrott, L. (2010). Values and Ethics in Social Work Practice. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd.

Sowers, K. and Dulmus, C. (2008). Comprehensive handbook of social work and social welfare. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Thyer, B. and Wodarski, J. (2007). Social work in mental health. Hoboken, N.J.: J. Wiley.

Turner, F. (2005). Social work diagnosis in contemporary practice. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.

Webber, M. (2008). Evidence-based policy and practice in mental health social work. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Wodarski, J. and Feit, M. (2009). Evidence-based Interventions in Social Work. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher, LTD.

Weaver, H.N., 1999. Indigenous people and the social work profession: Defining culturally competent services. Social Work, 44(3), pp.217-225.

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