The complexities of making recommendations for adoption and fostering panels: An investigation of the biographic and professional influences on panel members’ decision-making and attitudes

Weekes, Arlene P (2020) The complexities of making recommendations for adoption and fostering panels: An investigation of the biographic and professional influences on panel members’ decision-making and attitudes. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of East London. Full text available

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Abstract

Background: Adoption and fostering panels are unique entities, in which members interpret both written documentation and verbal presentations. Applying regulations and guidance to reach recommendations, making life-changing judgments, based on conscious and unconscious characterisations of people. The study investigates the personal and professional interplay of individuals’ judgements in the decision-making environment of panels, with emphasis on the impact of personal biography. Methodology & Methods: A constructive–interpretivist stance that individuals construct knowledge and meaning through their interaction with others is taken. Case summaries of the panels observed across England and narrative interviews with panel members using the Biographical Narrative Interview Model (BNIM), were analysed using BNIM interpretive panels to generate broader interpretive perspectives. The interviews and observations were triangulated with panel minutes. Findings: There was a correlation between biography and professional identity; an individual’s early experiences within the family unit had a lasting effect on their role occupancy in adulthood. Biography, illustrated by personal values and beliefs, impacted on recommendation-making. Without personal reflection and external containment, conflicting positions could often be observed. Whilst panels achieved their function of providing recommendations, they had constructed a collective narrative of being impartial and balanced albeit that did not reflect reality, as demonstrated by the conduct of panel members in the performance of their roles. Conclusion: Complex processes are at play when individuals come together in groups to make recommendations. This study rejects the view that it is possible to avoid stereotypes and generalisations, arguing that it is essential that panel members are supported to construct internal and external aptitudes to guard against unconscious influence, by the use of Effective Personal and Professional Judgement (EPPJ), intended to enable panel members to be more conscious of their own biases, and thus strive to make nondiscriminatory recommendations. Agencies need to be transparent and stringent in their recruitment of panel members, examining the personal characteristics and social and personal values which drive individual and, thus, panel judgements. Key to making effective recommendations is pre-panel quality assurance to reduce adverse bias from assessors and scrutiny of reports at an effectively facilitated panel, that enables members to focus on the task.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of East London in collaboration with the Tavistock Clinic for the award of Professional Doctorate in Social Work
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Social Work, D60, Decision Making, Values, Beliefs, Panels, Foster Carers
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adoption & Fostering- Psychology
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adoption & Fostering- Social Welfare
Groups & Organisations > Occupational Groups
Social Welfare > Social Welfare Personnel
Social Welfare > Social Work
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2481

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