Introduction to Case Studies
Knowledge for assessment and intervention
Research information can be considered under two headings: knowledge
for understanding and knowledge to inform intervention. The first
helps you move from a description of circumstances to an analysis
of the key issues, sorting the essential and distinguishing the significant
from the less important and the inconsequential. While it is true
that assessment is a continuous process and, therefore, subject to
change as new facts come to light, social workers, like other professionals,
are required to make judgements at points in time based on what is
known. This may provoke anxiety, but the first sort of knowledge should
help you see the wood from the trees. Sometimes practitioners can
become overwhelmed by too many facts. Skilled assessment requires
the application of knowledge about what is significant for likely
The second type - knowledge for intervention - is information derived
from research which helps you understand which particular services
are likely to meet the needs that have been identified in your assessment.
It should help you move from understanding to more effective action.
We need always to bear in mind that some social situations in which
we are seeking to intervene are complex and difficult to change. Neither
clinical nor research knowledge provides a magic bullet. But using
them together, we should be able to operate as more responsible and
more effective (but, still fallible) workers.
This section of the learning resource contains four case studies,
covering the following areas of social work and social care:
- Mental Health
- Older People
- Child and Family
Each case is described
in four simplified stages. There is a danger in seeing this as
a neat linear process; the reality is more likely to be about
an iterative, cyclical process in which information is assessed;
a plan is formulated; implemented; and reviewed.
This process leads to more information, more assessment, a revised
plan, subsequent reviews etc. While any intervention should aim
to be systematic and knowledge-based, it is unhelpful to pretend
that social work or parallel interventions always proceed smoothly
from A to B.