Social work with older people, Capabilities Statement and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Pathway
“It is important that it isn’t assumed that anyone can work with older people; older people deserve to have people with the right knowledge and skills working with them. Some of the knowledge and skills is the same as for working with other people, but there are some specialist elements too.” (Older people’s feedback)
The British Association of Social Workers has led the development of a Capabilities Statement and CPD Pathway for social work with older people in England. The Statement and Pathway will help everyone to see what social work can offer to support people to plan for and to live a good life throughout older age.
Older people are the biggest users of social care and health. As older people and older carers live longer, they face more complex situations and there is greater demand for social care.
Social workers have a crucial role in ensuring that older people get the right care and support at the right time. Social workers are experts in building relationships to understand what older people need, identifying how to increase wellbeing, and coordinating support in complex situations.
Despite the importance of social work for older people, until now we have not had clarity about what social workers offer and the particular expertise that they bring to this work. It takes particular expertise to work with older people because, over a lifetime, people experience complex situations, change and loss.
Social workers can use the Statement and Pathway to develop their expertise. Older people and their families can use them to know what to expect from social work. And employers and educators of social workers can use them to help them get the best out of their social workers.
“Initially I thought that the additional capabilities were not required but now having seen them, I realise the necessity of them and how they will ensure that older people are given respect, dignity and wellbeing in their later years by ensuring that social workers are continually developing.” (Social worker)
The Statement and Pathway were developed in partnership with stakeholders, including social workers and older people, those who support them as carers and family members, and relevant organisations. They are owned by the social work profession, through BASW, endorsed by the Department of Health and implemented by the adult social care sector.
The statement provides a national set of capabilities for social work with older people in England. There is no requirement to meet all of the capabilities. They are not mandatory and are not a checklist. They are intended as helpful guidance to support social work development and recognition in this essential area of social work. They reflect what the evidence suggests will promote older people’s well-being.
The Pathway sets out the roles that older people’s social workers can have at different stages of their career. It outlines how social workers can develop expertise, and how their expertise can be recognised as they move from qualification through their career. There is no requirement to undertake particular learning and development. However, all social workers do need to undertake professional development in order to remain registered so the pathway fits with existing requirements. The pathway can be used to suggest particular learning and development.
We will continue to work with the sector to ensure social workers, who work with older people, have the opportunities and support to develop the specific expertise that is needed. The consultation on the pathway indicated that social workers want to be recognised for their expertise in working with older people. The pathway recommends that there should be recognition of capabilities and that this should be led by the profession. This will be consulted on further.
We hope that you will use the Statement and Pathway. Let us know what you think of them and how you are using them here.
See our Frequently Asked Questions and Guidance for more information about how to use them.
Please share the Statement and Pathway with others – you may want to download the Press Release to let others know about it.