Practitioners' documentation of assessment and care planning in social care: the opportunities for organizational learning

Michele Foster, Jennifer Harris, Karen Jackson, Caroline Glendinning

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper analyses practitioners’ documentation of social care assessments and care plans for disabled adults of working age. The data were collected in the course of an innovative project that introduced new outcome-focused documentation into routine social care assessment, care management and review processes. The project aimed to encourage practitioners to focus during these processes on the full range of outcomes that individual disabled adults might seek to achieve; and identify the appropriate services for realizing those outcomes. Analysis of the new documentation provides insights into the diverse range of priorities and outcomes that service users aspire to achieve as a result of receiving services, and the service inputs that were agreed between practitioners and service users. However, despite the new documentation, the majority of both outcomes and services that were recorded tended to cluster around a fairly narrow range of conventional social care service functions. Moreover, the emphasis of both outcomes and service inputs differed between different groups of social care professionals. In the context of current policies to make social care services more individualized and outcomefocused, each of these findings has major organizational implications. The opportunities for using routine practitioner documentation to identify areas of organizational and professional change and learning are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)546-560
    Number of pages15
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


    • Social care
    • Outcome-focused services
    • Disabled adults


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