New regulatory standards place unreasonable expectations on social workers

BASW has raised concerns that proposed proficiency standards for social workers would place unreasonable expectations on newly-qualified social workers.

Under draft standards published for consultation by the Health Professions Council (HPC), which will regulate social work from July 2012, practitioners would be expected to ‘be able to practise as an autonomous professional, exercising their own professional judgment’ in order to be registered by the regulator.

But in its initial submission to the consultation, BASW’s Learning and Development Group warns that new social workers would need support over a significant period of time in order to meet the standard.

‘No decent employer would or should expose a newly registered social worker to the degree of autonomy implied in standard 4.0,” it states. ‘A good employer would be working towards more autonomy within the first year of employment, with continued development to follow.’

Its response, based on wide consultation with members, including students, also says there is ‘disquiet’ that social workers would be expected to ‘manage the physical and emotional impact of their practice’ – an expectation outlined under standard 3.5.

BASW says it is essential that there is a statement within the standards that employees much receive ‘reasonable’ support from their employers to meet the standards.

‘It is felt that more work does need to be done on the standards and that more input from practitioners and NQSWs is essential,’ the BASW document states, adding that a group of social work practitioners should be brought together to analyse the draft standards before the HPC takes them any further.