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Information for social workers

COVID-19 information for social workers. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information and advice

Last updated: 23 May 2022

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.

Social workers with temporary registration can be removed from the register at any time, without a full fitness to practise process. If a concern is raised about them that meets our triage test whilst they have temporary registration, they will automatically be removed without an investigation.

As you will be aware, social work as a profession spans across the two government departments responsible for health and social care, and education. Below is a list of guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Education, and the NHS in response to COVID-19 that you may find useful.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services – advice for local authorities and their partners to help support and protect vulnerable children.

Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in education, childcare and children’s social care – preventing and controlling infection, including the use of PPE, in education, childcare and children's social care settings during the coronavirus outbreak.

COVID-19: ethical framework for adult social care – a framework to support the planning and organisation of adult social care during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): adult social care action plan - how the government will support the adult social care sector in England throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

Full list of GOV.UK guidance related to coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccinations and testing for social workers

To protect the public, social workers should always consider their role in the provision of safe care, and their professional duty to assess and manage any potential risks posed to people when making decisions about testing, their own immunisations and COVID-19 vaccination status.

While there is no absolute duty for an individual to be vaccinated against any disease, there is a potential risk of inadvertently spreading COVID-19. This includes spreading the virus to vulnerable members of the public.

We therefore expect social workers to uphold the professional standards and prioritise the health, safety and wellbeing of the public and their colleagues by working with their employers and adhering to the relevant guidance in the settings where they work.

In relation to mandatory vaccination and testing as a condition of deployment, following a government consultation, COVID-19 vaccination for staff and professional visitors to care homes is no longer mandatory.

While vaccination remains a personal choice, we encourage everyone to take up the vaccine where they can to tackle the spread of COVID-19. We are clear that a social worker’s decision on whether to have the COVID-19 vaccination, or their exemption from the vaccination for clinical reasons, are not grounds for us to consider whether their fitness to practise is impaired.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

As social workers continue to consider new and different ways of supporting people, it is important to consider, reflect and take account of what this means for your practice.

Your online account has a dedicated space for you to record CPD as your work, and the context in which you practice, changes. This year, you must record at least 2 pieces of CPD in your online account. This demonstrates to us and the public that you uphold our professional standards and continue to remain fit to practise.

We will not tell you what your CPD should look like. We appreciate it may not take the form of training or formal learning but could well be an important opportunity to reflect on the challenges you face in practice, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about CPD.

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