Spotlight – The Learning from Practice Manual

An essential resource for practice educators and study supervisors. Helping others to learn is a skilled job. This practical guide offers extensive advice and guidance on how to get the best results, whether in student supervision or any other process of helping colleagues to learn.

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The Professional Social Worker: An essential text for all social workers

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Failure is part of success

We tend to see failure as the opposite of success. But this simplistic way of viewing failure hides some very complex issues. It is more accurate and realistic to think of failure as part of success. A one hundred per cent success rate in any significant project is relatively rare. Most of the time, success encompasses failure. Sometimes, it is failing at one thing that enables us to succeed at something else – for example, by seeing where we have been going wrong, what assumptions we have been making that need to change. Furthermore, fear of failure can be a major obstacle to innovation, to a balanced approach to risk and to learning. And, let’s be clear about it, we fail on a regular basis. Every time we do a typo, we ‘failed’ to get it right first time; every time we are a minute late for a meeting, we ‘failed’ to get there on time; and so on. Failure is not just the opposite of success, so we need to make sure that we do not allow a simplistic understanding of failure to stand as an obstacle to success.

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Connect with Neil Thompson online! For Neil's blog and more resources

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The road to enlightenment: Work and mental health in the pandemic

The impact that Covid-19 is having on our mental wellbeing – sometimes referred to as the ‘shadow pandemic’ – is clear to see in the numbers:

Depression – More people are experiencing some form of depression. Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that 19% of adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic, almost double the proportion (10%) from before the pandemic.

Poor coping strategies – Recent research from Bupa Global, for example, found that 38% of UK board-level executives have used drink and drugs to manage pressures of the pandemic.

Loneliness – Research from the ONS reveals that at the start of November, with its darker evenings, 8% of adults were ‘always or often lonely’, representing 4.2 million people.

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The ‘learning styles’ myth is still prevalent among educators – and it shows no sign of going away

The idea that people learn better when taught in a way that matches their specific “learning style” — auditory, kinesthetic, visual or some combination of the three — is widely considered a myth. Research has variously suggested that learners don’t actually benefit from their preferred style, that teachers and pupils have different ideas about what learning styles actually work for them, and that we have very little insight into how much we’re actually learning from various methods.

Despite this evidence, a large proportion of people — including the general public, educators and even those with a background in neuroscience — still believe in the myth. And a new review, published in Frontiers in Education, finds no signs of that changing.

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Ensuring every older person is treated with dignity as a unique individual

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Developing an anti-racism strategy

Racial injustices and ingrained inequalities are apparent in society and evident in UK workplaces. To address the root causes of racial inequality (racism), employers need to maintain a zero-tolerance approach to workplace discrimination – as is required by the Equality Act 2010 – and commit to planned action. This guide outlines six principles (which build upon our initial call for an approach based on four key principles) to help organisations develop an action strategy to help end systemic racism and address racial inequalities at work. Race discrimination is illegal in the UK as per the Equality Act 2010. As such, employers must enact their policies if allegations of racial discrimination occur, while individuals are within their rights to raise a grievance should they experience race-related discrimination.

However, although everyone should have equal access to work and opportunity to reach their potential (regardless of any aspect of their identity, background or circumstance), barriers to access and in-work progression continue to exist in many organisations. High-profile government-initiated work has encouraged action on racial diversity and inclusion, but more recent studies, such as the Parker review update on UK FTSE board composition and research by Cranfield School of Management included in the Parker update report, show there is currently inertia.

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It’s all about people: visit Neil Thompson’s humansolutions website

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Spotlight – Lessons for Living

“Where there are people, there will be problems, but there will also be potential” is a key part of Neil’s work. And that is precisely what this manual is all about – equipping practitioners from various professional disciplines to help people address their problems and realise their potential. Part One provides an extended essay on the nature and significance of problem solving to lay solid foundations of understanding. Part Two then offers guidance on using 101 problem-solving tools that can be used in a wide variety of circumstances.

Available for purchase here or here

The Authentic Leader A new approach to leadership in Neil’s important book.

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Avoid rumination

When we experience powerful negative emotions, such as when we are grieving, upset, angry or disappointed, they can dominate our thinking for a while. We find it difficult to push them to the back of our mind and try to get past them. But normally we will do so sooner or later. However, what can happen sometimes is that we get locked into a cycle of negativity. We can ‘ruminate’. This means that we go over and over things in our mind; we find it difficult to stop coming back to what has hurt us. This is to be expected in the early aftermath of a difficult experience, but it can continue for weeks, months or even years, constantly sapping our energy and disempowering us. So, it is important to recognize the dangers of rumination – in ourselves and others. Where this ‘locking in’ to a cycle of negativity has occurred we need to look carefully at strategies for breaking out of it.

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LinkedIn: Connect online & join Neil Thompson’s HUMANSOLUTIONS discussion group

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How virtual family group conferences have fared under Covid-19

Family group conferences (FGCs) have been around in the UK since their introduction by Family Rights Group (FRG) and others in 1992 and they have been increasingly used in recent years for family-led planning in children and families’ social care. Whilst they are also used in adult services their major use still sits in children’s services. With Covid-19 came a number of challenges to FGC practice and services have often needed to be creative and resourceful in how they have met these challenges.

Covid restrictions have meant that many FGC services have either had to stop working or significantly alter their practice. Many FGC staff have simply been redeployed, often as social workers or family support workers, in order to support these increasingly stretched services at a time when many workers were shielding and unable to work. Others however have adapted their practice to plan, prepare and deliver ‘online FGCs’, and the national network run by FRG have developed guidance for these.

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A practical guide to supervision of students & other forms of workplace learning

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How to help your team thrive at work

When your team has more good days at work, so do you. And when you’re on top form, your team is more likely to thrive too. But something’s holding many of us back. Stress and poor mental well-being are among the leading causes of absence, presenteeism (people coming into work when they are ill) and leaveism (working during your time off) – none of which are good news for you or the people you manage. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these factors for many.

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If you’re a social worker come join us in the Social Work Focus Facebook group!

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Spotlight – How to Survive in Social Work

Social work by its very nature is challenging and demanding work. But, in the current social, economic and political climate, it can prove extraordinarily difficult to keep your head above water. Written by two highly experienced social work professionals, this important book explores the significance of that context, offers guidance on how to survive despite it and even to aim for thriving within it. There are no easy answers, but there is much we can do to make sure that we are able to fulfil the potential and value of social work as a force for making our society a humane one without sacrificing our own health and well-being.

Available for purchase here or here

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Use reframing

We all see the world in different ways, so my perspective may be different from yours. But what also happens is that people become comfortable with their way of seeing the world and can be reluctant to change it, even if such a change could actually improve their situation. ‘Reframing’ is the highly skilled process of helping someone see their situation from a different, more positive and empowering perspective. For example, if someone applies for a job, is interviewed but does not get the job, they may come to the conclusion that they were not good enough for that job and may be dissuaded from applying for similar jobs in future. However, helping them to see the situation differently (that is, reframing it) can be very helpful, helping them to understand that it is more likely that they were plenty good enough for that job, it’s just that on the day the interviewers felt that someone else had more to offer at that point in time. Many people’s tendency to see the world in a self-defeating or self-disempowering ways is sadly a common feature of working in the people professions, and so reframing can be extremely helpful at times.

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Emotional Competence Learn to develop your emotional intelligence and resilience

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Building a better workplace starts with saying “thanks”

It can feel like there’s little to be grateful for these days. Many of us are stressed about our health, our finances, and our jobs and these worries can create a vicious downward spiral, impacting our physical and mental health, hurting our performance at work, and straining our relationships. When we lose sight of the positive and focus on the negative, we’re more likely treat our colleagues poorly; we might insult them, talk about them behind their backs, and ignore or exclude them.

These uncivil behaviors are a widespread and expensive problem for organizations. Unfortunately, research offers few practical solutions to reduce mistreatment in organizations and most of those that do exist are pricey, time-consuming, and have shown limited effectiveness.

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Not a textbook, a hands-on manual of practice guidance. An essential resource!

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Call on UK Government to bolster bereavement support in the workplace

National bereavement charity Sue Ryder and a coalition of MPs, charities, businesses, faith leaders and healthcare professionals are calling on the Government to introduce a minimum of two weeks statutory paid bereavement leave for all UK employees grieving the loss of a close relative or partner. Currently, in the UK there is no legal requirement for employers to grant bereavement leave, except for parents who have lost a child under 18 years old. It is otherwise entirely at the employer’s discretion.

Research conducted in October found that in the past 12 months, 7.9 million people in employment (24% of all employees (1)) experienced a bereavement. Economic research conducted by Sue Ryder has found that grief experienced by employees who have lost a loved one costs the UK economy £23bn a year and costs HM Treasury nearly £8bn a year; through reduced tax revenues and increased use of NHS and social care resources.

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How to Do Social Work: A basic guide from one of social work’s leading authors

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UK Government proposal to change mental health law in relation to autism

The Government has published promising new proposals to change mental health law in England and Wales which could result in fewer autistic people being wrongly sent to mental health hospitals. This is a huge step forward. We and hundreds of thousands of campaigners have been calling for changes to mental health law for years, so it respects autistic people’s rights. At the moment, it allows people to be sectioned because they’re autistic – even though autism isn’t a mental health problem. The proposals will change this in some really important ways.

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Dealing with Stress: Important guidance on keeping stress at bay

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Spotlight – The Values-based Practice Manual

Values are at the heart of best practice. This important manual offers a successful blend of theoretical understanding with very helpful practice guidance to enable readers to make sense of the complex but vitally important issues. This is an ideal resource for anyone involved in types of work where success depends on effective engagement with people.

Available for purchase here or here

Sociological insights to help understand people’s lives and their challenges

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Recognize warning signs of aggression and potential violence

There are some obvious signs of aggression and potential violence, such as reddening of the face, threatening gestures and so on. However, it is important to realize that there are many other, more subtle clues that can alert us to the potential for aggression and violence. In situations where we anticipate someone may become aggressive (where we have to deny their request, for example), we need to be using our nonverbal communication skills and watching carefully for signs that tension is growing. There is often an escalation. For example, it may start with something quite minor and normally imperceptible (drumming of fingers, moving about uneasily in their seat and so on). There are things we can do to minimize the chances of aggression and violence (effective listening, for example), but ultimately, if you feel you are in real danger of being assaulted it is wise to leave the situation at the earliest opportunity – for your own protection and also for their protection, as having a criminal assault charge against them is likely only to make their situation worse.

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Time and Workload Management: An essential guide to managing a heavy workload

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