You are expected to work as part of a network. It is, therefore, necessary for you to establish and maintain relationships and connections as part of your network. The network should have clear objectives.
Networks are important as they will enable you to address the different needs of the people you support. They will enable you to share knowledge and good practice with other professionals.
You should remember as a member of a network you are representing your organisation and should follow certain etiquette. This will include respecting your fellow members of the network. The respect should not just be limited to the person, it should be extended to the professional role. For example, if you are working with other professionals you should not interfere with their role or overstep your boundaries. You will be expected to respect your peers and be professional at all times.
You should also adhere to any administrative arrangements. For example, if there is a requirement to send information within a certain time frame this should be done within the time.
You will also be expected to have certain skills and competence to operate or perform certain functions such as using specialist software or databases. Here you can consider your writing style when recording information. Stay away from jargon or acronyms that are unique to your organisation or profession.
You should also bear in mind the importance of trust for your network to be successful. Network members will not feel safe to share information or to signpost work to you if there are question marks regarding your practice. For example where yourself and organisations are known for breaching confidentiality, standards, health and safety regulations.
There are other issues such as GDPR which you have to consider when working with networks. Certain information should only be shared on a need to know basis. You should also ensure you have gained consent from service users before sharing their information with others.
You should also naturally understand the remit of your job role. For example, when working with people who require specialist support you should recognise that any interventions might not be shared with yourself. Naturally, this can create conflict on the network. It’s always best to recognise that it’s not a matter of lack of trust but an initiative to protect the privacy of service users.
Other conflicts can be as a result of professional or organisational ethos. For example, when working with medical professionals they might insist on providing the service user a package based on medical care while if you come from a social background you might favour other interventions such as befriending.
Other conflicts or problems could be as a result of members of the network not being skilled enough to manage all the activities required by the network.
Lack of team members numbers on the network would also affect performance especially if there is a heavy workload.
To improve the network they should be good communication throughout. You should be in a position to utilise all the resources available to you to communicate with all members of the network. This should not just be limited to phone calls. You should consider emails and any face-to-face contact whenever possible.
Remember to work in line within realistic timescales. It is also important to apply some quality assurance techniques to your network such as getting feedback from all participants. Evaluation will also be a good idea to test how well your network is working. This will hopefully assist you to identify problems and areas where your network is performing exceptionally. Always better to identify problems early on before they become big and unmanageable.