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Maintaining vital support for people during uncertain times

An update on our work on COVID-19 from our chief executive Colum Conway

Maintaining vital support for people during uncertain times

3/18/2020 6:00:00 PM

Social work services are under immense pressure. Social workers are responding to COVID-19 as well as maintaining vital support to people amid intense work pressures, staff shortages and concerns for personal health and wellbeing, as well as family commitments and caring responsibilities.

Many are turning to us to ask what they should do in the face of the spread of COVID-19 and what decisions they should make about practice and working arrangements. We are keen to provide clear guidance on matters relating to our regulation and, where possible, will avoid placing any unnecessary burdens on social workers and education and training providers.

Some questions fall outside of our role as the regulator and we recognise that these exceptional circumstances call on us and our specialist view of social work. We will work to engage in conversations outside of regulation, in collaboration with our partners, to help the profession respond at this difficult time and make decisions with the best available advice and support.

Our approach

We can’t remove the need for social workers and education and training providers to make difficult decisions in these unprecedented circumstances, but we are committed to making the regulatory aspect of those decisions clear and to working collaboratively across the sector on matters outside of regulation. We will:

  • Work with our sponsor departments, the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care, to inform and respond to developments in government advice and implement emergency legislation.
  • Review our regulatory processes, advice on measures to prevent the spread of the virus and seek to minimise burden on those we regulate.
  • Lead and contribute to conversations across social work and professional regulation to consider the questions from the sector, to minimise duplication and to coordinate our advice.
  • Maintain our commitment to advice and engagement and make clear to social workers how they can contact us as our organisation responds and our workforce adjusts.

While we consider how to work flexibly, our commitment to public protection remains our primary concern. We will continue to receive concerns about social workers and liaise with those professionals currently going through the fitness to practise process.

Further information

We list specific advice and guidance on our work, including any changes to our normal regulatory activity on our dedicated coronavirus page. We will update this regularly in line with government advice and will communicate with those directly affected. We will also announce any updates on our Twitter page @SocialWorkEng.

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