By Judith Milner, Patrick O’Byrne (auth.), Jo Campling (eds.)
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1995) describe assessment as a preparation for decision making, and this provides a useful way of looking at assessment activity - how good are the decisions arising from it? The only way to estimate the effectiveness, or otherwise, of assessment activity is to assess its outcomes. Summary • • • • • • • • Traditionally, assessment activity has not been well defined in the social work literature. Where there is an obvious psychological dimension, the balance between internal and external factors needs careful consideration.
Obvious gaps in data are rarely evident in written assessments. Possible explanations will exist at this stage in both social research and social work assessments, but, in the former, they are more likely to be explicit and contain details of how they will be checked. Intuition may be accurate but should be testable. Even where there is only a single explanation, disproof is as important a consideration as proof. This means that when the data collection is complete, not only will themes emerge, but also data that do not 'fit' easily with these explanations will not be discarded.
Despite these potential problems for a community care manager, the Audit Commission (1992) expects an assessment to pull together the multiplicity of workers and assessment formats to create: a seamless service; agree distinction and responsibility between health and social care, liaison with housing agencies, independent organisations involved in planning. (Audit Commission, 1992, p. 64) 24 Assessment in Social Work Assessing for a purpose While no one would wish to deny the principles set out in the new legislation - indeed, it could be said that social workers have claimed a monopoly on caring values for far too long - it needs to be recognised that these principles are difficult to actualise in the absence of an overarching assessment framework.