Vida Gudžinskienė Auksė Šinkevičė


This article analyses opportunities for strengthening collaboration between case managers and social workers based on the experiences of case managers. The Description of the Case Managements Procedure approved by the order of the Minister of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania dated 29 March 2018, established the guidelines for the application of the case management method in the field of family assistance and defined the new duties of the case manager and the social worker. A successful and smooth process of family assistance is the goal of every case manager and social worker; thus, close collaboration between the case manager and the social worker is the cornerstone of the organisation of complex services for the family and the child. Close collaboration is necessary in the provision of assistance to the child and family; however, specialists working in the social field often face unnoticed, hard-to-assess and unpredictable results, thus they encounter many challenges. There are also difficulties in collaboration when the case manager aids the child and the family together with the social worker, while the opportunity for overcoming them becomes important and significant in order to reduce the possibility of these specialists suffering burnout and to strengthen their motivation. The research object concerns the opportunities for strengthening collaboration between the case manager and the social worker. The aim of the research is to reveal opportunities for strengthening collaboration between the case manager and the social worker based on case managers’ experiences. The problematic question is as follows: What strengthens collaboration between the case manager and the social worker? The following research methods were used: analysis of scientific literature and legal acts, generalisation method, qualitative research, and semi-structured interview. The sample of the research participants was formed by purposive sampling using the criterion sampling method, in which the research elements are selected in accordance with the established criteria. Research participants were selected according to the following criteria: 1) case managers who work in X institutions, provide case management services, and, together with social workers, organise the assistance process for families experiencing social risks; and 2) 2 years’ experience in the field of case management. The research was organised in November and December 2022; in total, 7 case managers who met all of the above criteria participated in the research. Research data were processed using qualitative content analysis, which was carried out following the inductive logic of building topics and sub-topics based on the research data. Research data were analysed in accordance with the following sequence: repeated reading of transcribed interview texts and reconsideration, data coding by identifying meaningful elements in the text, grouping of codes into sub-topics by assigning confirming statements, and distinguishing topics from sub-topics. Later, when interpreting and analysing research results, they were related to the scientific insights of other authors. In order to ensure research ethics, this research is based on the principles of: respect for the person’s voluntary participation in the study; providing information about the research; familiarisation with the aim of the research, the method of collecting data and the research procedure; benevolence; the intention not to harm the respondent; and confidentiality and anonymity. Research participants were informed about the aim of the research and its compliance with the principles of research ethics. All participants participated in the research voluntarily, as each had the option to refuse to participate in the interview or withdraw from the research at any time. All research participants were informed about the study confidentiality and the assurance of their anonymity. During the organisation of qualitative research interviews, efforts were made to create a safe, calm environment in which research participants could communicate openly and honestly. Anonymity was preserved by coding the responses of each research participant. Case managers’ responses were coded with the letters AV. During the research, the principle of tolerance was observed: each research participant was respected for their opinion, position on certain issues, experiences and feelings, and prejudices or evaluations were avoided. When analysing research results, the characteristics of the research participants are presented in general, ensuring that no personal information that might allow the identification of a specific participant is provided and research participants’ anonymity and confidentiality are ensured. To avoid the disclosure of personally identifiable information, the names of the research participants were coded using the letters AV and a number (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). The coded data of all research participants are available only to the researchers. Empirical research has shown that strengthening the case manager and social worker’s competencies and ways of their cooperation are related to strengthening cooperation opportunities. Strengthening the competences of the case manager and the social worker is associated with qualification training by promoting the development of solutions to their professional problems, strengthening these abilities, deepening the understanding of the regulations of legal acts related to their activity, and fostering their knowledge and their ability in practical activity. Increasing the professionalism of specialists, case managers and social workers sharing experiences with colleagues by discussing important aspects of their activities, thus expanding available professional knowledge, and deepening their understanding of the methods that prove effective in practice also contribute to the strengthening of collaboration. Helping each other, as an expression of mutual interaction and communication, in which encouragement, support and openness are particularly important, is significant for case managers and social workers. Moreover, the expression of the competences of case managers and social worker scan also become an opportunity for strengthening collaboration. This is because it is associated with value attitudes and personal characteristics such as trust, the representation of one’s position, and the perception of the child as a priority. Opportunities for strengthening the professionalism of case managers and social workers are associated with the ways of their collaboration. The meetings of case managers and social workers, during which they express their positions, analyse problems and possible solutions, and devise an action plan, strengthen their smooth work and help ensure the protection of the child’s rights. Collaboration between case managers and social workers is unimaginable without their active involvement, when by means of collaboration they purposefully pursue a common goal. The joint work of case managers and social workers is associated with working together, when actions are coordinated, further actions are agreed upon, and responsibilities are shared. Having a common goal, trusting each other as well as working together and supporting each other is crucial in the collaboration between case managers and social workers.