Changing the image of social work


I was interviewed on BBC radio about a social worker in Swindon who had been struck off for falsifying records and failing to act when a young girl with learning difficulties disclosed abuse. It wasn’t the bad practice that in some ways interested me and the coverage it got but, paradoxically, the good that hearing of cases like this should do to the image of social work in the public eye.

Too often in other professions such as the police, teaching or medicine you hear of people who have not been up to the job or committed either criminal or dangerous behaviour towards the people they have been charged to look after. In my view the public have long since deserved to see social work in its new professional capacity – being subject to the same disciplinary codes as other professions. Now that the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) holds all registrations of social workers and conducts professional competence hearings, the public can be reassured that those social workers deemed unfit to practice will be struck off and this will be done transparently and the information will be clearly in the public arena.

Anything reported to the public in the media, in whatever shape or form, about social work is vital in my opinion as it moulds the community’s perception of the value of social work and social workers. Now that we can clearly demonstrate that we will not tolerate bad practice and will root it out at every opportunity, employers and local communities can be more confident that those staff charged with looking after the most vulnerable in society are, in effect, fit for purpose.

It may seem a small matter to be reassured that those not up to standard will be dealt with but on the long road to convincing people of the need for and the worth of social workers I find it sits on the positive side. If we combine this extra transparency with other opportunities to educate the public as to what social workers do and what their limits are then it’s another small step towards achieving equality as a profession.

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