A Social Worker has narrowly avoided suspension from work after it was found that she had used practice guidance found on social media. The Social Worker in question believed the guidance to be accurate and “good” due to the author’s misleading title.

The Social Worker found herself facing capability procedures and narrowly avoided suspension as the guidance contained some very loose and sloppy content and when applied, compromised a family she was attempting to safeguard.

After approaching One Stop Social for some assistance, we decided to explore the guidance and content at source. Whilst the guidance appeared to have been created with good intention – that is to assist and support front-line staff – what we found was concerning: it transpired that the author had 3/4 years of social work practice with limited teaching/academic background, no involvement in quality assuring of social work practice or in the management of staff. This is a recipe for disaster as not only does it promote poor practice it potentially compromises Social Workers.

The content breached a number of Social Work Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (HCPC) – including:

  • Promote and protect the interests of service users and carers – Seeking consent: “from service users or other appropriate authority before you provide care, treatment or other services.”
  • Promote and protect the interests of service users and carers: “Treat service users and carers as individuals, respecting their privacy and dignity.”
  • Work within the limits of your knowledge and skills: “You must refer a service user to another practitioner if the care, treatment or other services they need are beyond your scope of practice.”
  • Identify and Minimise Risk: “You must not do anything, or allow someone else to do anything, which could put the health or safety of a service user, carer or colleague at unacceptable risk.”
  • Reporting Concerns: “You must support and encourage others to report concerns and not prevent anyone from raising concerns.”

*Please note: we have not provided a link to the guidance so as to protect anonymity for the author in question as we believe the guidance was created with good intentions. The content has been subsequently removed.

Following these findings, the Social Worker was issued with a warning and is (thankfully) still able to practice in her role as a Social Worker. But admits that she will never make the same mistake again. In fact, such was her learning, she felt compelled to contact One Stop Social so as she could share her story with other professionals.

As a Social Worker and Manager, I have been involved in the shaping of service delivery in Youth Justice and Children’s Services on a number of occasions. I have created safeguarding policies, court work as well as developed best practice on assessment skills. I am also a guest lecturer at local colleges and universities. As such, I know all too well that before content is shared or published, there must be evidence to show that it works and that it is effective. As to actively promote or share content that is not, will not only compromise your role as a professional but also those in which we are trying to support.

Our profession is underpinned by codes of conduct, standards of practice and evidence based research and “what work”. However, given that we are in the age of social media, we as professionals need be extra vigilant in deciphering what information or guidance we can use and what to avoid in our day to day service delivery.

A simple checklist:  

  • Is the author well established?
  • What is the background of the author?
  • What expertise does the author have in the field/work?
  • Where is the evidence base?

If you would like to share your story with One Stop Social, please email us at central@onestopsocial.co.uk

About One Stop Social

One Stop Social is a Social Work and Care Professionals hub. The online hub is a place for social work and care sector providers and professionals to promote front-line services, vacancies and publicise training, courses, events and resources. We are run by front-line staff for front-line staff with a total of over 30 years’ experience of working within the social work and care sector.

Author Bio

The author of this blog is Matt Hughes who is a registered Social Worker and Director of One Stop Social. Whilst Matt admits he is not a natural author or blogger, he has extensive experience working as a front-line Support Worker, Social Worker and Manager for Children’s Social Care and Youth Offending Teams, which dates back to over a decade. In that time, he has managed Police Officers, Probation Officers, Social Workers, Support Workers and Student Social Workers – including work as a Practice Educator. Specialisms and experiences include:

  • Supporting a Local Authority Children’s Services deemed inadequate by Ofsted to manage and develop Social Workers and Managers.
  • Development of best practice policies, guidance and procedures.
  • Development and implementation of safeguarding plans and quality assurance guidance on court reports and social work assessments.
  • Development of best practice and training in youth justice court work – including a best practice court document on sentencing outcomes for CYP’s.
  • Assisting and managing staff development, capabilities and disciplinary procedures.
  • Assisting Universities develop Social Work courses and training.

*Updated: May 2017