Standards For Employers Of Social Workers Re-Launched

The standards which set out what social workers should expect from their employers have been revised and re-launched by local authorities, health and social care partners today.

The Standards for Employers of social workers have been re-developed to give social work employers and those working in social work access to a pool of professional resources and information that incorporates the essentials of what supports good social work practice.

They aim to benefit every social worker in a local authority, health or the voluntary sector by clearly identifying the development opportunities, resources and accountability arrangements that employers should have in place to ensure they are providing the right level of support to social workers for their everyday work and continuing professional development.

The Standards bring together an updated set of core values that are shared across local authorities, health and social care partners, ensuring that social workers can expect the same levels of support across all social worker roles in all organisations. They are aimed at enabling social workers to do their jobs more effectively and supporting them in today’s changing landscape of social services.

There are eight individual employer standards that cover all levels of employees from managers to student social workers. These fall into three over-arching areas of focus that social workers should expect:

  • A well led professional environment – including effective planning and workloads
  • Enabling professionals – with effective management and supervision
  • Enabling practice – with effective development.

The Standards are set out in a framework which is designed to be used as a practical resource by all employers including councils and health and social care partners in their local areas. The framework can be incorporated into local self-regulation and improvement and is also designed to be used by regulators such as Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has led on revising the standards on behalf of the Social Work Reform partners, hosting an advisory and implement group consisting of a number of representative bodies involved in providing care for the young, old, disabled and vulnerable. The Employer Standards were first developed in 2009 by a cross-sector working group drawn from the Social Work Reform Board (and supported by a joint Department of Health and Department for Education social work unit) in response to recommendations made by its predecessor body, the Social Work Task Force.

Jim McMahon, Chair of the LGA’s Workforce Board, said:

“Having an up-to-date set of standards for social work is crucial, not just for making sure that employees are getting the right support and resource to do their job effectively, but also to ensure those who need care are also getting the improved outcomes they deserve.

“We know that social workers do a difficult job in what is an increasingly challenging environment, so anything we can do to help social workers gain and maintain the skills and knowledge they need to build relationships, develop skills and feel supported in the workplace is positive.”

Helga Pile, National Officer for Social Care, UNISON, said:

“We want the Standards to be universally adopted as the essential standard for safe and effective social work practice conditions. They represent the employers’ side of the bargain by giving social workers the support they need in order to exercise their professional responsibilities effectively. Working with the other partners to refresh and sharpen them has been constructive, building on the experiences of early adopters. We now have a great opportunity to renew our efforts to spread the word in the sector about their fundamental importance for social work.”

Michael Guthrie, Director of Policy and Standards, Health and Care Professions Council, said:

“As the statutory regulator of social workers in England, we are committed to working with the social work profession to improve public protection.

“These standards play an important role in ensuring that employers of our registrants understand the legal and professional duties of social workers, including maintaining their fitness to practise and undertaking continuing professional development.”

David Pearson, President, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said:

“Social workers play a critical and significant role in supporting many individuals in our local communities to achieve improved health and wellbeing outcomes, independence, choice and control. These standards are themselves important to support social workers in these vital tasks and ADASS is pleased to be part of this endeavour to recognise and encourage good practice.”