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Organisational culture and context


As a field of practice, social care work is very diverse. Social care workers work in many different contexts, may have different roles or job titles, and may work with a broad range of individuals, groups or communities. Therefore, the context in which one works, the remit of the individual organisation and the profile of the service user group will shape the type of work one engages with, the role, goal and tasks. Organisational context also refers to both the models and frameworks that are adopted by the service and the supports that are available in terms of individual and team supervision, resources, and wider supports. Experiences of supervision on placement shape how students understand and learn about the culture and context within that organisation. 

Organisational culture represents the shared ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving in social care organisations, in essence the way that things are 'done' within a particular organisation. It relates to the character and personality of an organisation and is created and shaped by leadership, traditions, values and beliefs, as well as the behaviours and attitudes of the people in it. Why is organisational culture important one might ask? Having a positive workplace culture is essential to delivering a high quality service. When staff members and the people they are working with feel supported and heard, this creates a work environment which benefits all, and ultimately service users in terms of the type of care they receive. Culture operates at different levels:

  1. What we see and believe to be shared understandings

  2. The values, which represent what we attribute intrinsic worth to

  3. The assumptions (beliefs) which operate at a deeper level and are much harder to access as they underpin our day-to-day choices.

For example, attitudes around providing and accessing support (such as supervision), valuing voice, understanding behaviour that challenges us, are all shaped by the organisational culture and the understandings, values and beliefs of the people working within the organisation. 

The pillars of a positive organisational culture,  all which correlate positively and significantly with a stronger sense of belonging include being:

  • Welcomed

  • Known

  • Included

  • Supported

  • Connected 

These pillars are something we can all reflect on in building a sense of belonging for both staff and service users within social care organisations, to support safe, quality and effective practice. 


Some resources you may find useful include:

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