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Pitfalls in recording

Recording is a core social work skill. It is something that all practitioners in social work are involved in. However like many everyday tasks it can become almost a subconscious activity, like driving to work. We arrive but can't quite remember all the processes we went through to get there.

This section of the training course uses information from research and the findings of Inquiry reports (most recently the Victoria Climbié Inquiry Report (2003)) and inspections to highlight some of the common pitfalls in recording for both practitioners and managers.

In addition to identifying the reasons for each pitfall, the pitfalls for practitioners suggest strategies that may be used to avoid each pitfall. An audit sheet is also provided to enable practitioners to check their own records.

Pitfalls for practitioners

  1. Case records are out of date

  2. The child is "missing" from the record

  3. Facts and professional judgements are not distinguished in the record

  4. The size of the record makes it difficult to manage

  5. There is no assessment on file

  6. The record is not written for sharing

  7. The record is not used as a tool for analysis
  8. The record is disrespectful to the service user

Pitfalls for managers and policy makers

  1. There is no management action to support policies and procedures

  2. Policies and procedures are insufficiently detailed to support practitioners

  3. Recording is not an integral part of performance monitoring

  4. Policies, procedures and practice tools are developed and implemented without the involvement of practitioners

  5. Recording formats overlap



By Steve Walker, David Shemmings and Hedy Cleaver
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