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The importance of chronologies. Patrick Ayre Department of Applied Social Studies University of Bedfordshire Park Square, Luton email: web: . Why record?. History Support partnerships Provide continuity

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the importance of chronologies

The importance of chronologies

Patrick Ayre

Department of Applied Social Studies

University of Bedfordshire

Park Square, Luton



why record
Why record?
  • History
  • Support partnerships
  • Provide continuity
  • Facilitate reflection, analysis and planning
  • Support professional development
  • Evidence for resources
  • Management monitoring
  • Evidence for enquiries and investigations
  • Evidence of acceptable standards
why chronologies
Why chronologies?
  • Day to day recording, reflection, analysis, planning
  • Justifying our own practice
  • Making referral and challenging others
  • For the child
capturing chronic abuse
Capturing chronic abuse
  • Single events often only significant in context;
  • Can often only understand present by setting in context of past
  • Intangible: Difficult to capture and compare
  • High threshold for recognition
  • Neglect is a pattern not an event
what s the problem
What’s the problem?
  • Chronic abuse and the principle of cumulativeness
    • Files very long and badly structured
    • Patterns missed and ‘chronic abuse’ overlooked
    • The problem of proportionality
    • Acclimatisation (case, agency and geographical)
information handling pitfalls
Information handling pitfalls
  • Failure to give sufficient weight to relevant case history; ‘Start again syndrome’
  • Rule of optimism
  • Natural love
  • Cultural relativism
information handling pitfalls1
Information handling pitfalls
  • Picking out the important from a mass of data
  • Facts recorded faithfully but not always critically appraised
  • Too trusting/insufficiently critical;
  • Decoyed by another problem
  • False certainty; undue faith in a ‘known fact’
  • Discarding information which does not fit the model we have formed

Department of Health (1991) Child abuse: A study of inquiry reports, 1980-1989, HMSO, London

information handling pitfalls2
Information handling pitfalls
  • Too much

not enough

  • Maintenance of focus on the child
  • Adult services and children’s services (hand-in-hand or hand-to-hand?)
information handling pitfalls3
Information handling pitfalls
  • Tendency to move from facts to actions without ‘showing your working’
  • Hesitancy to challenge other professionals or the conventional wisdom
the chain of reasoning
The chain of reasoning




the chain of recording
The chain of recording

What happened/what you saw

What this means

What you did/what should be done (and why, if this is not clear from the above)

the chain of recording1
The chain of recording
  • But how do you know which facts?
  • Must be informed by a basic risk assessment (would not always be spelled out on paper)
risk assessment
Risk assessment
  • The dangers involved (that is the feared outcomes);
  • The hazards and strengths of the situation (that is the factors making it more or less likely that the dangers will realised);
  • The probability of a dangerous outcome in this case (bearing in mind the strengths and hazards);
  • The further information required to enable this to be judged accurately; and
  • The methods by which the likelihood of the feared outcomes could be diminished or removed.
but what is analysis
But what is analysis?

You have gathered lots of information but now what?

All you need to do is ask yourself my favourite question:

“So what?”

You have collected all this data, but what does this mean, for the service user, for the family and for the authority?

challenge your dodgy thinking
Challenge your dodgy thinking
  • I am only a… and he is a…, so I had better keep my opinion to myself.
  • I am obviously in a minority, so I had better keep my opinion to myself.
  • We need to maintain harmonious relations, so I had better keep my opinion to myself.