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This article examines the challenges encountered during a collaborative project involving research and practice in a Norwegian municipality. The objective of the project was to apply co-creation by involving users, employees and researchers in the development of coordinated, flexible and knowledge-based services, with a strong emphasis on user-centeredness. However, the project faced several obstacles that hindered its progress. In this article, we adopt a ‘what if’ perspective to explore alternative scenarios, identifying pivotal moments in the project and envisioning how alternative realities could have facilitated some of the fulfilment of its initial intentions. We argue that co-creation represents a mindset shift within the public sector, emphasising relational practices and embracing the inherent uncertainty associated with welfare service provision. By engaging in second-level inquiry, we propose that organisations can develop a co-creative logic that prioritises flexibility, innovation, involvement and ongoing evaluation, moving away from traditional reliance on routines, manuals and measurable outputs.

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This study set out to gain a better understanding of how family meetings are facilitated and experienced in an Irish rehabilitation hospital setting from the perspectives of interdisciplinary team (IDT) members, patients and their family members. This article reports the findings from IDT members’ perspectives. A critical-realist action-research approach was utilised that involved medical social workers (N = 15) and a social work academic. A quantitative, descriptive study design was adopted, which utilised a cross-sectional survey of IDT members. A total of 85 clinical staff responded to the questionnaire, of which 69 were fully completed. Four key themes emerged: pre-meeting engagement and preparation – a critical step; the impact of organisational structures; supporting participation; and mechanisms for effective family meetings. Findings indicate the importance of pre-meeting preparation, the mutuality of the relationships between participants, a standardised approach and the use of patient-centred and inclusive practices to achieve truly participatory family meetings. Family meetings involve complex processes in which mutual influence, context, preferences, values, information shared, the nature of the relationships involved and the communicative style of participants all play significant roles in both the process and decision-making outcomes. This study concluded that social workers are perhaps in a unique position to work with IDTs in clarifying the reality of the limits of choice and the involvement of the patient and family in rehabilitation hospital settings. In preparation for the role of family-meeting facilitation, the implementation of education and training programmes for IDT members is strongly recommended.

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The Decisions, Assessment and Risk Special Interest Group of the European Social Work Research Association (DARSIG) dedicated a pre-conference event at the 2023 European Conference for Social Work Research in Milan, Italy, to the application of innovations using big data and machine-learning algorithms in social work risk assessment and decision-making processes. Here, we share some ideas from these discussions.

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Gnatola ma no kpon sia, eyenabe adelan to kpo mi sena’ (‘Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story’) (Ghanian proverb, available at: http://thelionandthehunter.org/). Historically, both the discipline and profession of social work have been imagined and constructed by those who oversee social work services – ‘the hunters’, according to the aforementioned Ghanaian proverb. Thus, it has been predominantly white, middle-class, non-disabled, mainly female, Global North voices that have determined what social work looks like and how it is carried out across the world. However, this is changing. Today, many more ‘lions’ are telling their stories, as this article demonstrates. Through the curated narratives of Bob, Doug and Rose, as well as that of their storyteller/collaborator, Viv, we learn that growing up in care in Scotland in the 1940s and 1950s was ‘confused and confusing’ for the children at the heart of it. Contradictory discourses competed for dominance, and the children experienced unintended consequences from the ‘care’ they received. While not attempting to universalise on the basis of three people’s stories, we believe that they have much to teach social work.

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The biennial conferences on Decisions, Assessment, Risk and Evidence in Social Work have reached a new milestone. Running in Belfast since 2010, the 2024 conference will be held in Zurich, Switzerland, 20–21 June. This article describes the journey to date and provides information for those interested in attending future conferences. This short article also includes some reflective comment on the contribution of the Decisions, Assessment, Risk and Evidence in Social Work conferences to learning and to the research community.

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This chapter examines strategies for addressing power imbalances, bias and disempowerment in the research process from the perspective of both care-experienced and non-care-experienced researchers. Also, this chapter reflects on practical advice for those engaging with care-experienced people in research and doing so can create more authentic, empowering and meaningful experiences for care-experienced participants in ways that reduce fear of shame, stigma, tokenism and re-traumatisation.

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Street-involved children are recognised as a social concern worldwide. In South Africa, there are an estimated 250,000 street-involved children, living mostly in the larger centres of the country. Street-involved children’s lives are characterised by hardship and stigmatisation; they live on the very edges of society. However, street-involved children demonstrate considerable resilience in their daily lives as they navigate and negotiate their way to accessing resources necessary for their daily lives and future goals. This study entailed qualitative interviews with nine young adults who had lived on the streets prior to coming into care, and then been taken up into the residential care of a children’s home and had since aged out of care. The study examined the accounts of the resilience of these nine care-leavers while living on the streets. The findings show that, while on the streets, participants demonstrated resilience in building family-like connections, networking people for resources and reflecting on their learning through life experiences. The authors argue that recognising and celebrating these resilience factors when working with former street-involved children in care will enable them to incorporate these resilience processes into a repertoire of resilience enablers for life.

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This book has aimed to conduct research about edgy facets of leaving care – understudied groups of care-leavers, and fresh methodological approaches and innovative theories. In this concluding chapter, we draw together key findings regarding these three facets, highlighting what has been learned collectively through this project. The research has been conducted and chapters written by authors from all over the world who are, mostly, on the edge, transitioning between postgraduate student and scholar. Spring-boarding from their new insights, the chapter attempts to imagine what leaving-care research will look like in the future and where the new edges might be. It will draw attention to the many gaps and edges that remain and suggest possibilities for ongoing research that pushes the boundaries yet further forward.

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