Locating social workers in a high security forensic facility: inclusion and exclusion
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Locating social workers in a high security forensic facility: inclusion and exclusion

Frank Reilly Director, Scottish Recovery Network, Glasgow, Scotland

Background Locating social workers in hospital teams, or co-location, can improve relationships between professionals but at the expense of some professional values.

Aim This study examines the effect on communication of co-locating a social work team in a secure mental health service in Scotland.

Method Semi-structured qualitative interviews were undertaken with members of the social work team and a purposive sample of clinical staff. Data were analysed using NVivo software.

Findings The main themes identified were: the effect of co-location on informal relationships and communication; social and physical distance between nursing staff, social workers and other senior professionals; increasing levels of oversight and paperwork being less useful to staff.

Conclusion Co-location changed the understanding of the different roles that social workers perform in the team in which they are co-located, but did not change the understanding of ward-based nursing staff. The opportunity for informal discussions before meetings was highly valued by social workers and senior clinical staff, but was not available to ward nurses. Being removed from the daily activities that other social workers engage in is a barrier to future career development and may make moving on from hospital-based work a challenge.

Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2018.e1289


Reilly F (2018) Locating social workers in a high security forensic facility: inclusion and exclusion. Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2018.e1289

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Published online: 18 December 2018

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now