Gudiance: Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Information and advice for social workers – Social Work England

Social Work England has published information and advice for social workers feeling anxious about novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Across the UK, public health organisations, government health officials and employers are putting in place plans to ensure that people receive the right advice, care and support and that you have the best information, environment and equipment to do your job.

A significant epidemic will pose complex professional challenges and pressures for social workers. This can be stressful and will be exacerbated by sickness among colleagues, by the absence of those in self-isolation, or for social workers with caring responsibilities.

We recognise that this can take a toll on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of social workers. In addition to the measures taken to limit the spread of the virus, we encourage employers, wherever possible, to support and prioritise mental health and wellbeing in the face of these difficult circumstances.

GOV.UK is the official site for the latest information on the outbreak. The advice is updated regularly by the UK government and we continue to monitor it closely.

In addition, we have published a joint statement on how we will continue to regulate in light of novel coronavirus.

We’ll update this page regularly with further guidance as soon as we are able to.

What to do if you have symptoms

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a fever
  • a new, continuous cough

Read more about self-isolating.

This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online at If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

The NHS website also has more information about how coronavirus is spread. It answers common questions about the virus and provides information about the 111 service for those who need specific advice.

Information for social workers

Our regulatory standards are designed to be flexible and to provide a framework for decision-making in a wide range of situations. They support professionals by highlighting the key principles which should be followed, including the need to work cooperatively with colleagues to keep people safe, to practise in line with the best available evidence, to recognise and work within the limits of their competence, and to have appropriate indemnity arrangements relevant to their practice.

We recognise that the individuals on our register may feel anxious about how context is taken into account when concerns are raised about their decisions and actions in very challenging circumstances. Where a concern is raised about a registered professional, it will always be considered on the specific facts of the case, taking into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working. We would also take account of any relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time.

We continue to receive and progress concerns and are continuing to hold hearings at our Sheffield office. We will be reviewing this on a regular basis and will notify of any changes to our work on this page. If anyone who is due to attend a hearing has any concerns, please contact the hearings team at [email protected]

Role of employers

Employers should take all necessary steps to make sure staff are suitably equipped and have the right information to minimise the risk of transmission based on government guidelines.

If you know or suspect you are infected, you should follow the current public health advice, including self-isolating.

If you have pre-existing health conditions that place you at increased risk of infection, you should discuss working arrangements with colleagues and your employer.

Information for education providers and social work students

The current situation with COVID-19 brings significant challenges to teaching and for students on placement. We recognise that students may not be able to receive teaching or attend placements whilst off sick or self-isolating. Where possible, education providers should work with local partners, including placement providers to make appropriate contingency arrangements including, where appropriate, making adjustments for students to study remotely.

Where students are unable to attend placements due to self-isolation or sickness, the education provider can consider alternative adjustments that are suitable to complete during this time, including considering reflective, individual learning or extending placements. These should consider the learning outcomes of the placement when judging the suitability of any adjustment whilst minimising disruption to the completion of the placement. Any adjustments made to the course or placements should be documented.

Picture (c) PA Wire.