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Explain Why Reflecting on Work Activities is an Important Way to Develop Knowledge, Skills and Practice

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Reflective practice or self-reflection is an important skill for any health and social care worker to have. In fact,

…reflective capacity is regarded by many as an essential characteristic for professional competence.

Mann, K., Gordon, J. & MacLeod, A. Adv in Health Sci Educ (2009) 14: 595. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-007-9090-2

It involves looking back on something that you have done and actively and impartially considering your work, what went well, what didn’t go so well, what you could have done better and what you have learned. It has the benefits of developing emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion and can increase creative thinking skills. Reflecting on work activities is also a fantastic way of developing knowledge because it gives you breathing space to stand back, assess a situation and identify what you have done well and how you would do things better should a similar situation arise in the future. It can be thought of as a way of bridging the gap between theory and practice, using the following three-step process:

  1. Learn: This could be from books, the classroom, watching others, talking to others or other sources of learning/development.
  2. Do: Use what you have learned in your practice.
  3. Reflect: Think about your practice and critically examine the pros and cons.

The process of managing a situation and reflecting on it afterwards can give powerful insights about how to make improvement both personally and professionally and gain experience.

Not only can reflective practice improve your own knowledge, skills and practice but it can also improve the quality of service provided by your entire organisation as part of continuous development.

For example, a support worker may have forgotten to perform a task, such as balance checking an individual’s money. Upon reflection, they identify that the reason they forgot was due to to a disruption in their routine – balance checks are usually the first thing they do when they arrive on shift but on this occasion the individual had an important appointment to attend so it was left until later (and subsequently forgot). Upon discussion with their manager, they have the idea to write out a daily checklist of all tasks that a staff member must perform whilst on shift and sign off. This is tested over a few weeks and works so well that it is rolled out to other services within the organisation.

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