Social Work Task Force’s announces new description of social work

There has been broad backing from sector leaders for a proposed description of social work, produced by the Social Work Task Force to aid public understanding of the profession.

The taskforce included the definition in its interim report last week, and said it would become the “foundation stone” of its reform programme.

Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University, said he would have included more about “being beside people who are distressed and in danger, as it is often social workers who stay with people and pain when others move on or turn away”.

But the former British Association of Social Workers chair added: “It has the flavour of partnership working with service users, it is not full of jargon, and it does capture the range of roles and sometimes sharp-end responsibilities held by social workers.”

Jill Manthorpe, director of the social care workforce research unit at King’s College London, said it was “nice to have a description in lay language”.

However, she said she was “surprised” by the reference to social workers helping people with money or housing problems, saying this appeared to be more of a role for welfare rights or housing officers in councils.

The description will be supplemented by a statement on the roles and tasks of social workers, which will be developed by bodies including the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Skills for Care and the Children’s Workforce Development Council.

This will be submitted to the taskforce next month to inform its final conclusions, due in October. The General Social Care Council welcomed the move despite producing its own, government-commissioned roles and tasks statement, Social work at its best, last March.

A GSCC spokesperson said: “We agree that there is a need to spell out the implications of the roles and tasks statement for social workers. We know that Social work at its best will be an important building block for the new statement.”

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