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New handbook on decision-making in social work launched

05 March 2024

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council (the Social Care Council) today celebrated the launch of the SAGE Handbook on Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work.

The launch at the Social Care Council offices celebrated Northern Ireland’s contribution to this seminal text for social work at an international level. Authors include Marian O’Rourke, Catherine Maguire, Helen McVicker and Anne McGlade of the Social Care Council as well as colleagues: Gavin Davidson, Mandi MacDonald, Paul McCafferty, Lorna Montgomery and Danielle Turney from Queen’s University Belfast; Mary McColgan and Judith Mullineux from Ulster University; Paul Webb and Katherine Greer from Praxis; and Suzanne Cunningham and James Laverty from RQIA.  

The handbook, edited by Brian Taylor, University of Ulster, together with John Fluke, Christopher Graham, Emily Keddell, Campbell Killick, Aron Shlonsky and Andrew Whittaker, features 49 chapters contributed by leading social work scholars and practitioners from around the globe, interweaving research learning with experience. The Social Care Council contributed with staff co-authoring chapters on Getting evidence into organizations to support decision making and risk work and Risk and regulation of the social work and social care workforce.

The handbook will be of value to social work researchers, teachers and social work practitioners, as well as to those in wider health and social care settings.

The book carefully considers the impact emotion, intuition and cultural aspects have on social work. It also debates decision-making in varied organisations as well as best practice when engaging people who use or have experienced services within the decision-making process.

Editor Professor Taylor said:

“The scope of a handbook such as SAGE Handbook on Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work must take into consideration not only the practice of social work but also the involvement of clients and their families by social workers.

“It’s been an incredible experience to have so many expert voices from more than 20 countries contribute to this work. As social welfare systems develop this text will provide a key overview and help social workers develop their decision-making skills.”

Marian O’Rourke, Director of Regulation and Standards at the Social Care Council was a contributor to the handbook. She said:

“Social Workers must continually work to develop not just their skills but their relationships with people.

“A key aim of the Handbook is to support the development of sound, applied knowledge and values to underpin reasoned professional judgement and decision making by social workers in practice and those in management and regulatory roles. This is something that is important to  everyone involved in social work practice.”

The SAGE Handbook on Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work is available to purchase online here.