We asked you to share your social work career questions with our resident expert, Dame Lorna Boreland-Kelly. Here, Dame Lorna answers queries from a student social worker and a practitioner looking to progress in their career.
How do I become an advanced practitioner?
Dear Dame Lorna
I qualified in 2014 and since then I have been working with older adults and adults with physical disability. I’m keen to explore the alternative career pathway of advanced social work practitioner / strategic social worker.
I’ve not seen these positions advertised, and I don’t know what qualifications I would need or how to achieve them. Qualifications so far: BA (hons) first class; BIA (best interests assessor) master’s; PEPS (practice educator professional standards) 1 and 2 master’s.
What can you suggest?
Thank you for your letter.
Your letter made me wonder about the current setting in which you are employed. By this I mean are you employed by a local authority in the positions that you have mentioned? Or are you in the private or voluntary sectors? Also, is your title that of social worker?
In answering your question, I am going to assume that you are employed as a social worker by a local authority.
And given you hold the PEPS 1 and 2 qualifications, I assume that you have been supporting students as a practice educator.
My advice is that you discuss your aspiration to make progress in your career with your line manager. This should be as part of a focused conversation around your professional development and the opportunities in your current organisation.
This focused conversation should be possible in the annual discussions that will normally take place; these are sometimes referred to as an appraisal or job review.
However, if this is not a conversation you are comfortable to have with your line manager, then you need to look at roles in the adult social care sector that could best help your development and support your progress to holding a more senior/strategic position.
It would assist your development to use your skills and experience to support the advancement of newly qualified social workers or take on roles where you are managing people, resources/systems or practice.
These roles may not be advertised externally. You will need to look at the job advertising platforms of the local authorities in your scope.
Furthermore, you could think about looking outside of your current employer (if it is a local authority) to roles in the health sector.
We do hope that we’ll see you at Community Care Live 2023 in October, where there will be opportunities to explore career progression within the public and charity sectors and have one-to-one discussions about vacant roles in these organisations.
All best wishes
What do I include in my personal statement?
Dear Dame Lorna,
I am a student social worker.
I am due to finish my MA social work course in September 2023.
All my placements were in the children and families’ sector. But I would like to apply for an adult social worker role. I don’t have much experience in the adults’ field, apart from working part time as a healthcare assistant. I don’t know what to include in my personal statement.
Thank you for your letter.
Social work, while very rewarding, brings challenges in both adults’ and children’s services.
Having reflected on the above, your personal statement should address cases that you have held as a student where you have been working with the whole family. It should also include the transferable skills that you would take into working within the adult social care field.
To assist you, if you have not already completed your final placement, ask your practice educator to assist you in doing some observations/joint visits with a social worker working in adults’ services. You will then be able to reference this in your personal statement.
Within your personal statement you should also reflect on the relevant experience you have gained as a health care assistant. This may include any cases or clients you have supported with mental ill health, disability, or other adult-related social care issues.
You may also consider doing some paid or voluntary work in a care home or other adults’ services.
If you have not already read up on legislation and the application of these in the adult field, I would advise you to do so. This will include the following: (this list is not exhaustive);
- Care Act 2014 (if working in England) or Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (if in Wales);
- Mental Capacity Act 2005, including the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (covering England and Wales);
- Mental Health Act 1983 (also covering England and Wales).
In your personal statement, you need to show your understanding of the legislative framework and policies and your knowledge of strengths-based approaches in adult social care. Remember, the key will be how you demonstrate transferrable skills.
Do drop in and see us at the careers stand during this October’s Community Care Live event. This will also be an opportunity for you to explore adults’ social care job opportunities and options further.
All best wishes
Got a question?
Send your career questions to our resident expert, Dame Lorna Boreland-Kelly, to get more clarity and guidance on your career progression plans.
Dame Lorna has over 30 years’ experience of leading and developing social care services. She has an unparalleled level of insight into frontline social work and is well-versed in the issues that affect practitioners today. For the last two years, she has delivered careers clinics to social workers at Community Care Live.
We will publish answers to the questions you send in to Dame Lorna every fortnight. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org