Telling tales: using storytelling to explore and model critical reflective practice in integrated children's services

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Realizing the vision for integrated children's services will rely on effective collaboration and joined-up working across professional boundaries. One way of achieving this is to open up professional practice to the scrutiny of other professional groups in order that shared understanding can be developed. This brief article describes how we use story telling to model critical reflection and to invite students to reflect on their own constructions of their own and other professional groups. The story telling takes place during one timetabled session as part of a planned interprofessional learning module for students of nursing and social work. The authors, a lecturer in social work and a lecturer in children's nursing, had, by chance, been co-located in the same office. Working together led to many conversations and a realization of how we would often use the same words to make sense of our practice with children and families, but sometimes mean different things. The idea for the story-telling session was developed from these conversations.

The story, ‘Telling tales’ (see box 1), focuses on the real-life reflections of a children's nurse who worked with a young boy. He had been admitted to hospital and separated from his mother for a period of 1 week. The story is told to the students using the original words of the nurse. In this study, we describe the background to the initiative, how we use the story and what happens when we do. We contend that story telling is a powerful technique for opening up professional practice to the scrutiny of other professional groups. It also provides an effective vehicle to invite the students to critically challenge what they hold dear, just in case they are wrong.

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