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  • 20 April 2011
  • 5 min read

Working as a qualified social worker in either the public or private sector

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

There are many social worker jobs being advertised at the moment in both sectors of the industry, we take a look at both sides of the social work profession.

Qualified social workers are as in demand now as they ever have been, and there are vacancies throughout the UK and Ireland for registered social workers.

Whether you are a newly qualified social worker or have a career of experience in social work behind you, there are opportunities out there in both the public and private sector that could interest you.

The private sector can sometimes be regarded as the poor relation to public sector social work, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of social worker vacancies that are available.

Public sector social worker jobs

The majority of social workers in the UK work in the public sector, whether that’s by direct appointment or through a private sector agency placement. Public sector social workers can work in a range of different environments and with a wide range of people.

It’s the primary role of the social worker to address the difficulties that an individual has with living a good quality of life. Anyone can experience difficulties at any time in their life, and these may be caused by injury, illness, old age or mental health problems.

Someone with any combination of these problems can feel excluded and isolated from the community, and without the help of a social worker they may not be able to access support to overcome these problems.

A social worker who specialises in the care of the elderly will be well aware of the constraints of visual impairment, reduced mobility and decreasing mental ability, and can assist with methods to cope with each situation. For example, an elderly person living alone at home may require the assistance of an occupational therapist to provide living aids around their home, which can be arranged by a social worker. They may require a support worker to come in and help with cleaning, cooking or bathing or a healthcare assistant to manage their medication, all of which can be booked in by the social worker.

However, a social worker who specialises in children and families will be more aware of the needs of all the people involved, and the kind of support they may need to improve the functionality of the family.

It’s only in a last resort situation and if the child’s safety is at risk that a child will be removed and placed into care, but none the less it is a decision that a social worker must take. That particular social worker will continue to manage the case of the child and the family to work towards the child returning home when appropriate and safe to do so.

There are also social workers who are employed by the NHS, as opposed to the local authority. Social workers in a clinical setting are usually involved at the point when a patient is about to be discharged, and they will assess the suitability of the patient to return home.

The social worker will need to assess and monitor the patient, as well as take into account their wishes in order to supply an appropriate package of care. Some patients may not be able to return home, in which case the social worker will arrange a place for them in either nursing care or residential care as appropriate.

The overall outcome must be that the patient is safe, able to maintain a good quality of life and is receiving the care they require. A social worker is best placed to assess the most appropriate course of action for a patient because they will coordinate as part of a multi-disciplinary team and ensure all healthcare professionals have communicated their recommendations.

Social workers employed by the private sector

As we detailed earlier, in some instances private sector recruitment agencies are awarded a contract to recruit social workers for a local authority or a primary care trust. This hands the entire recruitment process over the agency, who receive their fee when a staff member is placed.

This also takes all pressure away from an internal recruitment department who may not be able to take on recruiting for a large number of social work professionals.

There’s nothing wrong with this process, and you could end up working in exactly the same position had the local authority / PCT advertised the post themselves.

How to search for a social worker job

You will find that the majority of social worker jobs on Socialcare.co.uk are advertised by private sector companies who are recruiting to fill public sector positions.

Start by searching for the geographical location you’re interested in working in, and then take a closer look at the vacancies that are advertised. While the exact organisation you could end up working within usually won’t be listed, there will be information about the job and the type of people you will be working with.

If you’re considering applying for a social worker position, but there isn’t enough information given in the job advert, you can always apply for the role through the site and request that you be sent further information.

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

I'm fascinated by the career choices we all make. It speaks about who we are. People choose to become a nurse or work in medicine or care for one of two reasons. One: simply, they always wanted to be a nurse or social worker or doctor. Two: even more simply, they want a job which helps people. In our blogs I want to explore these career choices: the ones that put other people first.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

I'm fascinated by the career choices we all make. It speaks about who we are. People choose to become a nurse or work in medicine or care for one of two reasons. One: simply, they always wanted to be a nurse or social worker or doctor. Two: even more simply, they want a job which helps people. In our blogs I want to explore these career choices: the ones that put other people first.