Social worker (degree)

Occupation overview

Social Work is an exciting and fulfilling international profession. As a Social Worker, you will work in partnership with adults, children, carers and families in a range of different settings to support and promote positive change in people's lives in order to improve their wellbeing and independence. 

Within the context of relevant Social Work legislation, you will use your professional judgement and build relationships with a variety of individuals and communities, as well as with a wide range of other professionals and agencies. In your role, you will assess, plan, implement and evaluate complex situations. This requires an ability to critically reflect and make decisions within a clear professional code of ethics.

As a registered Social Worker, you will engage in protecting individuals from harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation. You will work in a way which is compassionate and which takes account of all aspects of the individual’s life - ensuring their voice is central to decision making. You will use your professional expertise to work, assess, plan, implement, evaluate and intervene in putting the needs of people first.

Throughout your career, you will be responsible for ensuring your continuing professional development and will be expected to demonstrate leadership whatever your role. All Social Workers must register with the professional regulator and adhere to their professional standards.

Skills

Professional values and ethics

  • ensure professional ethical standards are developed, maintained and promoted
  • take responsibility for your decisions and recommendations
  • be aware of the impact of your own values on practice
  • exercise authority as a Social Worker within the appropriate legal and ethical frameworks
  • ensure the highest standard of person centred approach, so that people are treated with dignity and their rights, values and autonomy are respected
  • practise in a non-discriminatory manner

Views of people who use services, carers, their families and communities

  • hear the views of people who use services, carers, their families and communities, recognise their expertise, and enable their views to have validity and influence
  • promote the best interests of people who use services, carers, their families and communities
  • work with people to enable them to make informed decisions and exercise their rights
  • work to promote individual growth, development and independence

Evidence-based decision making and analysis

  • hear the views of people who use services, carers, their families and communities, recognise their expertise, and enable their views to have validity and influence
  • promote the best interests of people who use services, carers, their families and communities
  • work with people to enable them to make informed decisions and exercise their rights
  • work to promote individual growth, development and independence

Personal and professional development

  • work within the scope of practice as an autonomous professional
  • maintain high standards of personal and professional conduct
  • manage the physical and emotional impact of your practice
  • identify and apply strategies to build professional and emotional resilience
  • use supervision to support and enhance the quality of your practice
  • maintain your own health and well-being
  • recognise the need to manage workloads and resources effectively
  • keep your skills, knowledge and ongoing professional development up to date
  • show an awareness of current and relevant legislation
  • use a range of research methodologies to inform your practice
  • work in partnership with others

Safe professional practice and safeguarding

  • balance appropriate levels of autonomy within a complex system of accountability
  • respond appropriately to unexpected situations, identify and challenge practices which present a risk to, or from, people you are working with, their carers or others in order to uphold professional requirements
  • respond appropriately to signs of harm, abuse and neglect
  • maintain the safety of people you work with, their families/carers and your colleagues
  • establish and maintain personal and professional boundaries
  • follow health and safety policies and procedures

Communication

  • communicate in English at the level required by the HCPC
  • communicate your role and purpose sensitively and clearly, using appropriate language and methods
  • communicate in a way which is engaging, respectful, motivating and effective, even when dealing with conflict or resistance to change
  • exercise professional curiosity
  • have difficult conversations with empathy

Working with others

  • demonstrate effective interpersonal skills
  • engage with individuals and their families/carers and sustain effective relationships in order to effect change
  • engage effectively in inter-professional and inter-agency working to achieve positive outcomes
  • support networks, groups and communities to meet needs and outcomes

Recording and reporting

  • maintain accurate and complete records in accordance with applicable legislation, protocols and guidelines
  • prepare formal reports in line with legislation, policies and procedures
  • critically reflect on/review practice and record the outcomes of reflection appropriately
  • present reports in formal settings

Use of technology

  • use technology to manage your work
  • use technology to communicate appropriately
  • maintain individuals’ information security and protect data
  • advise people on how to use assistive technology
  • promote the use of technology to achieve better outcomes

Knowledge

Professional values and ethics

  • the importance of rights, responsibilities, freedom, authority and use of power
  • the importance of maintaining, and the limits of, confidentiality
  • that relationships with individuals and their carers should be based on respect, honesty and integrity
  • how to develop relationships appropriately
  • the impact of different cultures and communities and how this affects social work
  • current legal and ethical frameworks

Views of people who use services, carers, their families and communities

  • the concepts of participation, advocacy, co-production, involvement and empowerment
  • the contribution that peoples’ own resources and strengths can bring to social work

Evidence-based decision making and analysis

  • the impact of different societies’ views on human behaviour
  • the value of research and analysis and be able to evaluate evidence to inform practice
  • that experiences and feelings affect behaviour in interactions

Personal and professional development

  • social work theory, models and interventions; human growth and development across the lifespan and the impact of key developmental stages and transitions
  • the impact of injustice, demography, social inequality, policies and other issues which affect the demand for social work services
  • how to update knowledge to ensure evidence-informed practice
  • the scope and limits of practice and when/how to seek advice from a range of sources
  • models of supervision, critical reflection and self-reflection to enhance/change practice
  • your employer’s organisational context and systems and the impact on your practice
  • the concept of leadership and its application to practice
  • the requirements of the relevant professional body

Safe professional practice and safeguarding

  • applicable safeguarding/health and safety legislation, policies and procedures
  • how to maintain your own personal safety and that of others in complex situations
  • signs of harm, abuse and neglect and the importance of professional curiosity when these are observed and the appropriate risk assessment tools and processes to use
  • the role of the Social Worker and roles of others within safeguarding, appropriate to levels of skills and experience

Communication

  • the range of communication methods available to meet specific needs (both verbal and non-verbal)
  • the importance of the impact of verbal and non-verbal communication
  • how communication skills affect the assessment of, and engagement with, individuals and their families/carers
  • the range of factors that affect effective communication e.g. age, capacity, learning ability and physical ability

Working with others

  • the full range of interpersonal skills required to work with other professionals and agencies
  • the different social and organisational contexts within which social work operates

Recording and reporting

  • the applicable legislation, policies and procedures
  • the principles of good recording and record keeping

Use of technology

  • the types, and benefits, of assistive technology
  • how to use relevant software applications
  • IT data sharing protocols
  • the potential misuses of technology eg social media

Behaviours

Social workers:

  • communicate openly, honestly and accurately. They listen to people and apply professional curiosity to evaluate and assess what information they need to gather, to provide quality advice, support or care
  • treat people with compassion, dignity and respect and work together to empower positive change
  • adapt their approach according to the situation and context
  • commit to continuous learning within social work, with curiosity and critical reflection
  • adhere to the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics

Entry Requirements

Apprentices without Level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking their endpoint assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeships English and maths minimum requirements are Entry Level 3, and the British Sign Language qualification is an alternative to English qualifications for apprentices for whom this is their primary language.

Duration

Typically 36 months.

Professional Qualifications/Recognition

Honours Degree in Social Work.

This standard aligns to the requirements of the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers in England (2017). Completion of an approved degree in social work which appears on the HCPC Register of approved programmes will provide eligibility to apply to the HCPC Register.

Originally published on Gov.uk, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.

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