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About Social Work Jobs
Social work jobs are about supporting individuals and families. Effective social work jobs aim to provide the client with a programme of care so that they can support themselves independently as much as is possible and safe. Social work vacancies typically detail similar personal requirements for social care workers: strong interpersonal skills, good levels of self-confidence, clear communication skills.
It’s important that the care worker is able to explain the programme of support. And it’s also important that they can understand the client’s needs too. Listening to the client, and asking the right questions mean the social care worker (and the team around them) provide the correct, person-centred support.
Each client is different. Clients may include children, young people, youth work or clients with mental health problems or learning disabilities. The package of care will be structured around each client’s individual, complex needs so it’s important that the social care worker is able to follow correct procedure and keep accurate records. Being organised is important.
Social work assistants will be supported by a team of social care staff and possible a network of health care staff. This is a necessary part of the job not least because social workers are expected to form multidisciplinary teams with health care staff. Given this, the social work job seeker will need to be someone who is able to work in partnerships with other people, and as part of a team.
Settings and specialisms for social work
Social work jobs can take place in many settings. You’ll need to feel comfortable making home visits of course. But social work will take you into the wider too. Community care centres, hospitals, schools, residential care homes, sheltered housing associations, prisons, charitable organisations, and voluntary organisations are some of the settings for social work jobs. Many social care workers are home care assistants or work in sheltered housing or residential care homes. There’s a good deal of choice.
Approximately 50% of social work jobs focus on young people and their families. Other large sectors include social work jobs in mental health (see our mental health jobs section) and learning disabilities jobs of course. But there is much more besides this too. Jobs in social work may see you working with young offenders, people with physical disabilities, drug misuse issues, alcohol dependency, autism spectrum disorders, elderly care jobs, discharged hospital patients, cancer care patients, clients who require specialist rehabilitation (brain injury victims for instance, or accident victims), stroke victims. Similarly, your employer may be many and varied: social work jobs in family-owned care homes, youth work jobs for voluntary groups, social care work and social services jobs for the local authority and county council, social work assistant jobs for a charity, social care work for the NHS, or regular temp work for various social work vacancies for social work agencies in your home town.
Typical tasks in social work jobs
As already outlined social worker jobs (in fact, social work jobs at all levels) are about delivering support to help clients lead independent lives. For everyone involved in social work, this requires typical and specific tasks to be followed. Not least of which is record keeping. A good deal of any social work job is about writing and recording.
Keeping accurate records of care provided is critical in all social care worker jobs. You’ll also be tasked with taking decisions about the best course of action in terms of support structures and delivery. And of course, talking with clients, offering counselling to clients or their families, and passing on information will all call on those communication skills discussed earlier.
Social work has a regulating authority. The GSSC (General Social Care Council) provides clear codes of practice for social care workers and employers, with the aim of ensuring standards of conduct are professional and regulated. Social care workers who do not meet the required standard and breach the codes stand the risk of being removed from the Social Care Register. These codes help to structure the typical tasks required in social work:
- working with other team members (sometimes medical and health care staff)
- assessing client / patient needs
- creating support programmes and delivering care to help clients lead independent lives (as far as is possible and safe)
- provide support to clients and their families
- working in partnership with other authorities and care providers
- keeping accurate records of assessments
- take part in training
The GSSC codes apply to everyone who is employed in a social care job. That includes all levels, and all employer types. It includes support workers through to social workers, residential care workers and every social care worker within the public, and independent and private sectors.
Social Work UK and the role of the Health Professions Council
In time, it was revealed in 2010, the GSCC’s codes and responsibilities will be handed over to the Government’s Health Professions Council, and a subsequent name change too. But this won’t happen until 2012 at the earliest. But the message remains the same - social work jobs in England and social work jobs in Scotland (and Wales and Northern Ireland) will remain regulated. Social work vacancies will, therefore, ask for and expect certain criteria, among which will be a willingness to adhere to codes of practice outlined by regulating authorities.