Book Review: Rural Social Work Practice in Scotland

Rural Social Work Practice in Scotland

Colin Turbett; ISBN 9781 86178 0836

£15.95 from the British Association of Social Workers

At first, it would be possible to dismiss this book as a text irrelevant to medical practice, but to do so would to miss an accessible, up-to-date and highly relevant account of providing a professional “person-based” service to rural communities.

Colin Turbett, team manager for North Ayrshire Council Social Services on the Isle of Arran, has written this book with the aim of drawing on very recent international research on rural social care.  He combines this with personal experience to offer a pragmatic and easy-to-read guidebook for practitioners from many different disciplines, which was published in December 2010.

He starts by defining the challenges that exist in providing social care in rural communities, followed by the interpersonal dilemmas that exist for all professionals working in small populations.  Issues such as dual relationships, confidentiality and isolation are all addressed: experienced advice is offered with balanced observations which are easy to relate to.  The handling of client/patient information encountered via “off-duty” informal channels and the dilemma on when to act on it, is one such example; and indeed there are plenty other situations which are described to illustrate the concepts tackled throughout the book.

Subsequent chapters focus more on social care policy, and there has been much development in these areas, particularly in Scotland.  These may be less appealing for the health professional, however on offer is a very neat, potted summary of issues such as Direct Payments, Personal Care and GIRFEC and the challenges of managing a service to meet the fluctuating needs of a dynamic population.  A robust argument is made for improved recognition of Gypsy Travellers, through a detailed and rational account of their particular needs.  The book is forward-looking in ending with a chapter on telecare, and its implications for rural areas.

At £15.95, the book is highly recommended to all health and social care professionals who work in rural Scotland – and beyond.

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