Work in a Multi-Professional Environment
Social work is part of a multi-professional network of social
services in the Nordic countries. The special know-how and
attitudes required for cooperation are an essential part of
social workers' professional skills. Cooperation between different
occupational groups vary in content, form, and intensity,
and concerns both client-related and administrative matters.
Cooperation can be divided into cooperation inside and among
The need for the
developing of cooperation has been justified by economic arguments
and the interests of the client. Problems hindering cooperation
are varying organizational cultures and professional principles,
professional specialization, professional power, administrative
hindrances, and personal characteristics of workers. Strict
confidentiality regulations can obstruct the intended cooperation.
The aim of the
cooperation between social and health services is that services
are easily available and clients get better and more humane
In the Nordic
model, social work is regarded as part of a comprehensive
multi-professional system of welfare services. Social work
is done in cooperation with representatives of many professions;
the cooperation varies in form and content with different
sectors of the welfare service system.
One of the goals
in the Nordic system of welfare services has been to increase
interprofessional cooperation. This has been persued by cooperation
groups inside each sector. Joint administrative coordination
of different organizations, regionalization of welfare services,
and legislative obligations have been the central administrative
measures for increasing interprofessional cooperation, lowering
the threshold of cooperation, and removing obstacles which
of social workers with the representatives of other professions
can be administrative or client related. It can be more or
less nominal and occasional or regular, systematic, intensive,
and programmatic (Bruce, 1980; Hallet & Stevenson, 1980;
Westrin, 1986). The cooperation can be the exchange of information
through telephone, consulting, work in multi-professional
groups, or developing joint projects.
social and health services have been sectorized; separated
administratively in the Nordic countries. As a result, legislation
does not usually oblige the administrations of different social
and health service sectors to cooperate, although it often
creates premises for it. Cooperation between the social workers
and the representatives of other occupational groups is seldom
required by law. However, social workers work increasingly
in a variety of multi-professional, network-styled cooperation
projects and teams.
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