Lesley Carline, assessment officer in adults’ services at Hull Council, gives her views on what it means to be a professional social worker.
“Everything boils down to respect for the individual and their choices. It is about valuing the individual, respect for their preferred lifestyle, choice and promoting independence. I like to look at a person holistically. I look at how society and outside influences are affecting the individual.
“I’m a firm believer in reflective practice. There are a lot of things in the press about the Human Rights Act 1998, data protection issues, and so on that keep you thinking about what you are doing.
“We have to maintain social work values but it is difficult in the climate we work in now and the pressures affecting practice – everything being target-led and the financial pressures.
“I’ve been in social care for many years but only qualified in 2002. A very good thing about registration is the training you have to go on – that’s the best thing about it. It is important for people to go on training to reiterate and reinforce values and best practice.
“Being registered with a national professional body demonstrates our commitment to quality and high standards. Having codes of practice that define good practice gives us something solid to work and aspire to and gives us professional credibility.
“For as long as I can remember, social work has been seen as wishy-washy, with no real focus or structure. We now have a clear guide, with the thread of social work values woven through, that enables us to work with other professionals, who each have their own codes of practice, in a much more confident manner.
“Having our own codes of practice will enable us to focus on and maintain our unique identity. Maintaining our identity is crucial, especially with the emphasis on multi-disciplinary and joint working and as we are put under pressure with financial constraints and performance indicators.