Contents. Before you begin. How to work through this learner guide Assessment. Introduction: Reflecting on and improving own professional practice

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1 Contents Contents Before you begin How to work through this learner guide Assessment Introduction: Reflecting on and improving own professional practice v v vi 1 Chapter 1: Reflecting on your practice Undertaking self-evaluation in conjunction with supervisors and/or peers Demonstrating understanding of your own limitations in self-awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management 1.3 Providing and receiving open and evaluative feedback to and from co-workers Actively seeking feedback and accepting it non-defensively 19 Chapter summary 22 Assessment activity 1: Reflecting on your practice 23 Record your employability skills Chapter 2: Ensuring continuing self-support and supervision Identifying a range of support networks Seeking specialist advice and further training if necessary Observing agency guidelines in relation to professional development Appraising current industry developments and applying them to improve practice 2.5 Regularly participating in a review mechanism as a commitment to upgrading skills and knowledge 2.6 Evaluating current and future needs and taking action to keep abreast of evolving trends Chapter summary 47 Assessment activity 2: Ensuring continuing self-support and supervision 48 Record your employability skills iii

2 CHCORG428A Reflect on and improve own professional practice Chapter 3: Operating within an agreed code of ethics or practice Assessing your practice against agency objectives or a code of ethics Recognising the effect of values, beliefs and behaviour when working with clients 3.3 Establishing realistic goals and targets for self-development Adhering to professional legal parameters relevant to employment 64 Chapter summary 68 Assessment activity 3: Operating within an agreed code of ethics or practice 69 Record your employability skills Final assessment: CHCORG428A Reflect on and improve own professional practice 71 Employability skills 75 Appendices 77 Appendix 1: How the learner guide addresses the unit of competency 77 Appendix 2: Employability skills 81 iv

3 Chapter 1: Reflecting on your practice Chapter 1 Reflecting on your practice Community services work can be very challenging as it involves responding to complex human needs and difficult situations. Workers should be aware of their own limitations and seek opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge through personal and professional development opportunities. Practices that help workers assess their own skills include self-evaluation and supervision. Self-evaluation may take place in private periods of self-reflection, supervision sessions or group feedback exchanges with co-workers and supervisors. To benefit from feedback, workers must have a clear understanding of the protocols for giving and receiving open and evaluative feedback. In this chapter you will learn about: 1.1 Undertaking self-evaluation in conjunction with supervisors and/or peers 1.2 Demonstrating understanding of your own limitations in self-awareness, selfmanagement, social awareness and relationship management 1.3 Providing and receiving open and evaluative feedback to and from co-workers 1.4 Actively seeking feedback and accepting it non-defensively 5

4 CHCORG428A Reflect on and improve own professional practice 1.1 Undertaking self-evaluation in conjunction with supervisors and/or peers Engaging in regular self-evaluation has become an important element of professional development in community services work. Self-evaluation may occur through reflective practice or structured discussion and supervision with others. Self-evaluation Self-evaluation involves thinking critically about what you do and how you can improve your practice. This can be done on your own or in conjunction with others such as colleagues or supervisors. It may be a challenging process as you need to be objective to assess your own performance, skills and knowledge against the requirements of your job. Self-evaluation involves: identifying your strengths and weaknesses in the work environment participating in a range of opportunities to evaluate and develop your work skills developing an understanding your own personality traits, values, beliefs and behaviours seeking feedback and/or mentoring from others analysing and implementing feedback to improve your own work performance establishing goals and personal development plans identifying personal and professional development opportunities maintaining a sense of purpose and direction in your career undertaking regular periods of self-reflection. Self-reflection Taking time to reflect on your own practice helps you to become more self-aware and to identify any aspects of your job you find difficult or need to improve on. One of the most effective ways to engage in self-reflection is to use a journal to record and explore what is happening in your working life. Keeping written records helps you monitor your own development over time and identify areas of practice that you are confident in, as well as those you have difficulty with. The more you use your journal to reflect on and explore your role in the workplace, the better you will become at thinking in a constructive and critical way about your practice, solving problems, making decisions and being accountable for your actions. You may also find that regular periods of self-reflection and recording your thoughts in a reflective practice journal may enhance your ability to express yourself and use language appropriate to your occupation. This in turn may improve your skills in providing and interpreting written and oral information about workplace requirements. 6

5 Chapter 1: Reflecting on your practice If a colleague gives you feedback and you are unsure what they are saying, ask them to clarify what they mean or to provide specific examples of the performance, actions or behaviour they are commenting on. Giving and receiving feedback are key skills in the community services industry. Be constructive Always make sure the feedback you give others helps them learn something or improve an aspect of their work. Avoid purely critical or negative comments and never give feedback as a way of humiliating or belittling your co-workers. Try to make positive comments before providing feedback about what they need to improve. Constructive feedback allows the recipient to feel supported and respected. Always try to convey that you respect and value the person you are giving feedback to and are sensitive to their goals and needs. If a co-worker makes comments that are more like a personal attack than constructive feedback, you have the right to tell them that you will only accept feedback that focuses on your job skills and performance and if it is given in a courteous and respectful manner. Ensure feedback is timely Try to give feedback as soon as possible following the time the behaviour or work practice you are discussing occurred. It is not helpful to say, Mrs Jones told me last month that you never follow up and get back to her about other services that she is eligible for. It s too late now because she has left. It is always better to point out problems or oversights at the time they occur so the feedback recipient can correct the issue themselves or make sure they do not repeat the same mistake. 15

6 Chapter 1: Reflecting on your practice Case study Jenna has been working as a case manager in an AOD (alcohol and other drugs) service for over six months. Her role involves assessing clients and providing interventions to support them to manage their AOD issues. She enjoys her work and is keen to learn whatever she can from more-experienced workers. She thought she had established a very good relationship with one of her clients, Bradley, but now she is having difficulties. She asks her supervisor, Mark, for some feedback. She is surprised when Mark tells her that generally she is doing a very good job but she needs to be mindful of maintaining appropriate boundaries with her clients. At first Jenna starts to say that she is always very careful about boundaries with clients, then she realises she needs to go away and think about it before protesting. Jenna spends some time reflecting on this and particularly how it applies to her work with Bradley. She realises that because she has been working with Bradley ever since she has been at the service, she has let some boundaries slip. She has revealed more about herself to him than other clients and he has started to assume that he can treat her more like a friend than a case manager. Lately he has started to ask for favours including loans of small amounts of money, to which she has difficulty saying no. She realises that Mark is right and is glad that he pointed out this issue to her. Practice task 4 1. Rate your ability to accept feedback non-defensively by completing the following form. Read each statement, then tick the box that best matches how the statement applies to your ability to accept feedback at work. I value feedback and actively seek it out. Statement Rarely Usually Always I listen and think carefully about the feedback I am given. I try to avoid taking feedback as a personal criticism. I am willing to admit that I make mistakes sometimes. I try to learn from all the feedback I am given. I seek clarification when I don t understand feedback. I try to apply the feedback I am given. I avoid getting upset or angry if I don t agree with the feedback I am given. I respect those who provide constructive feedback, even if it is negative. I understand that feedback is meant to foster my personal and professional development. 2. Explain what you find most difficult about accepting feedback and what you can do to overcome this. 21

7 Chapter 1: Reflecting on your practice Assessment activity 1 Reflecting on your practice Your trainer or assessor may require you to complete this assessment activity and will provide you with instructions as to how to present your responses. They may provide alternative or additional assessment activities depending on the circumstances of your training program. The following table maps the assessment activity for this chapter against the element and performance criteria of Element 1 in CHCORG428A Reflect on and improve own professional practice. Part Element Performance criteria A 1 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 B 1 1.3, 1.4 Part A 1. Imagine you are the new supervisor of a work team who do not usually participate in self-evaluation. They think that a supervisor is someone who tries to catch them out making mistakes. How would you explain to your team the benefits of selfevaluation and self-reflection and the role of supervision in improving personal performance? 2. Discuss why it is important for community service workers to be self-aware and understand their own limitations. Give examples to support your answer. 3. If you are providing information to a group of people and teaching them new skills, how could you ensure that you meet individual learning needs? 4. Jana has received feedback that she sometimes lacks empathy for clients. The co-worker who provided this feedback tells Jana that a number of clients have commented that she does not listen to them and has unrealistic expectations about what they can achieve. One of Jana s favourite sayings to clients is, Stop feeling sorry for yourself and just get on with it. The feedback provider suggests that Jana tends to want others to have the same approach to life that she has and does not always take into account individual client circumstances, experiences and needs. Jana is surprised and angered by this feedback because it comes from someone she has always respected and trusted. How do you think she should respond to the feedback she has been given? 23

8 CHCORG428A Reflect on and improve own professional practice Decision-making There are a number of decision-making models, including ethical decision-making processes. These can be found on the Internet and in community services textbooks. The principles of decision-making include: reflecting on and assessing the situation to determine the circumstances and facts referring to a relevant code of ethics, establishing the ethical principles relevant to the situation and considering the potential harm the situation may cause if not resolved examining options for responding to the situation consulting with others who can provide guidance or specialist advice choosing a course of action based on the information you have gathered and advice you have received making sure you can justify your decision based on standards of practice or relevant ethical principles. In your work, you may often face situations that represent an ethical dilemma. It is important that you take steps to recognise the ethical principles involved, treat each situation as unique and seek advice when required. The following case study illustrates how a worker seeks specialist advice and further training. Case study Marjorie has worked in mental health for over 20 years and has developed valuable expertise in the area. Recently, however, she has noticed that many of her clients have a dual diagnosis that includes both a mental health condition as well as a drug and/or alcohol problem. Marjorie discusses the matter with her supervisor, saying that she sometimes feels she can t provide her clients with the help they need because she does not have enough knowledge or experience in alcohol and other drugs (AOD) work. She has been doing online research and study in AOD and wants to attend relevant training workshops. Her supervisor agrees and suggests that she develops closer links with workers in the AOD services her clients attend. The supervisor says she has a number of contacts in this area who Marjorie can ask for advice when she needs it, and suggests they consider setting up a peer work program where workers in both fields can meet on a regular basis to share their skills and knowledge. Practice task 6 1. Explain the key elements and benefits of professional supervision and peer work. 2. Give examples of when you would seek guidance from your peers and when you would seek it from a supervisor. 32

9 Chapter 2: Ensuring continuing self-support and supervision 2.4 Appraising current industry developments and applying them to improve practice The community services industry is constantly undergoing change and development. It is important to keep up to date with these developments and evaluate how you can apply them to improve your own practice. Keeping current with industry developments There are a number of ways you can keep up to date with industry developments, including: discussing industry matters with your peers, co-workers, supervisors or mentors networking with others within your own organisation and external to it attending conferences and training sessions being an active member of a professional association reading professional journals and literature conducting research and visiting websites that report on the latest developments in community and social services visiting relevant government websites to check policy developments using social media, blogs and other online forums to learn about new developments and trends in Australia and overseas. The Internet provides a range of resources that can help you stay current with new developments in every area of community services. For example, in the aged care sector, the Commonwealth Government provides comprehensive information about the industry and there are independent online publications that focus on current issues in the sector. Two examples are the: Australian Ageing Agenda Aged Care Insite. Each state and territory has a community services industry body that reports on developments in all areas of social services. The national industry association is the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and state and territory bodies are similarly named; for example, WACOSS (for Western Australian), VCOSS (for Victoria) and QCOSS (for Queensland). These websites contain a range of state, territory and national information on community services and social issues for industry workers and clients. However, you should only use websites that are professionally endorsed to ensure all information is accurate and up to date. 37

10 CHCORG428A Reflect on and improve own professional practice Practice task 14 Read the case study, then answer the questions that follow. Case study It is near the end of a long day and Karen can t wait to go home. She knows she should finish writing up her client case notes, but decides to do it tomorrow. She leaves the client files on her desk to remind herself to do it in the morning. As she is sitting having a final cup of tea, one of her co-workers, Jan, comes over and starts talking about a new client who has been referred to the service. Jan says she has heard that this client is gay and dresses like a woman. They both laugh about this. Karen says she doesn t like working with gay men because they are usually mean and difficult. Suddenly, Karen remembers that she was supposed to visit one of her clients today, Ben, a young Aboriginal man in his early 20s. His mother rang her that morning to tell her she is extremely worried about her son because he has been very depressed and talking about ending it all. One of his closest friends took his own life just last week after being bashed in prison and since then, he has been very withdrawn. Karen said she would go straight to see what help Ben needs to keep him safe, but she forgot to go after getting caught up taking phonecalls. When she mentions this to Jan, she says, Oh him he s always talking about ending it all, but never does. He ll be okay, he just needs to stay off the booze and get a job! Karen knows Ben does not drink, but does not say anything. His file is on her desk and she has not recorded the conversation she has had with his mother. She decides she will visit him tomorrow when she can, and hopes he does not do anything silly in the meantime. 1. Describe the areas of practice where Karen is not adhering to the legal parameters of her job. 2. What should Karen have done to meet her workplace obligations in this case? Chapter summary One of the ways you can assess your own practice is to collect evidence of meeting agency objectives and relevant codes of ethics or practice. Practice standards and personal attributes that are outlined in your position description can provide valuable guidelines when evaluating your own practice. To work effectively with others, you need a high level of self-awareness. This means understanding how your values, beliefs and behaviours may impact on your clients. People who do not make the effort to examine their own cultural beliefs, biases and lack of knowledge about other cultures are often those who resort to discriminatory behaviour and hold views that are based on stigma and stereotyping. Self-development is an ongoing process that requires an ability to plan how you want to develop your personal abilities, skills and knowledge. A personal development plan is an action plan for self-development in which you establish realistic goals and targets. The plan should clearly establish what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it within a specific time frame. Community service workers must have an understanding of the legal requirements that underpin every job role. This helps ensure you carry out your work safely and in a manner that addresses client needs and rights. 68

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