Newly qualified social workers should be able to identify substance misuse, understand why people might misuse substances, recognise the impact on others such as children or other dependents and refer people on to other services, according to new guidance.
The national framework, funded by Public Health England, lays out for the first time the skills social workers in all areas of practice need when working with someone with alcohol and drug problems.
Drawn up by Manchester Metropolitan University Professor Sarah Galvani, in consultation with organisations such as the British Association of Social Workers and The College of Social Work, the guidance maps the skills needed against the professional capabilities framework (PCF).
Lead author Galvani said although social workers in both adult and children’s services regularly worked with people with substance problems, most were not adequately equipped to carry out this role.
“[Social workers] need clarity about what their role and remit is and how their supervisors and managers can support them,” she said.
The guidance identifies three key roles and related professional capabilities for social workers and managers: to engage with substance misuse as part of their role, to motivate people to change their behaviours and to support people to maintain those changes.
They should also be able to assess an individual sensitively, work in partnership with them and their family to develop a maintenance and relapse prevention plan, as well as recognising and challenging their own and others’ stereotype around substance misuse.
Chief executive of The College of Social Work, Annie Hudson said: “Substance use is one of the areas that cuts across all areas of social work practice and is often part of the complex needs of the individuals and families that social workers support.
“This document will reinforce the College’s work to ensure social work education and training provides social workers with the tools to do their job well.”