This section of the Digital Capabilities Statement explains how social workers can use their proficiency in digital technology to make a positive impact on organisations that provide social care and advance practice and outcomes. It is based on the Impact ‘super domain’ of the PCF - ‘How we make a difference and how we know we make a difference. Our ability to bring about change through our practice, through our leadership, through our understanding, our context, and through our overall professionalism.’ (BASW, 2018; p.4).

This section covers:

  • Professional leadership and advocacy
  • Developing and maintaining digital professionalism

Professional leadership and advocacy

Rapidly changing digital technology in social work is creating new career opportunities and scope for new forms of leadership for social workers.

Social workers can lead in the development of apps and digital tools, as exemplified in this collaboration between children and IT services in East Sussex County Council.

At the strategic level, social workers can play a leadership role in the design, commissioning and procurement of new technologies by their employers (see Turner et al, (2019) for a discussion of some of the practicalities involved in a collaboration to develop an app for social work education).

This will help address the issue of fragmentation of systems and in this way, social workers can provide leadership in the development of digital technology to enhance integration of services.

The research findings that informed this project’s Digital Capabilities for Social Workers: Stakeholder Report also identified new advocacy roles for social workers. These include championing the technology needs of people who use services within their teams and locally. Social workers should also advocate for people who use services to be involved and influence local commissioning arrangements for technologies required to meet their needs. Social workers can also work alongside people who use services, opening up channels for them to be involved and shape the development and procurement of technology.

Developing and maintaining digital professionalism

Digital capabilities are integral to social work practice (Taylor, 2017) and professionalism (Boahen and Wiles, 2018; Ellaway et al, 2015). At the systems-wide level, social workers can draw on digital technology to influence organisational context. This can include using data to improve how teams and services collaborate with each other and, adopting technology that enable them to obtain feedback from people who use services to improve practice.

Social workers can also reflect on how their online activities, if unmanaged, can directly impact the outcome of their own work and the professional standing of social work.

Social workers should:

  • Should reflect on how professionalism apples to their online interactions with people using services and how their private uses of digital technology (such as social media) can affect their professional identity and reputation
  • Implement domain 6 (p. 27 – 30) of Health Education England’s Health and Care Digital Capabilities Framework in their professional and private use of digital technologies
  • Regularly reflect on the implications of the use of social media and other digital technologies on their professional identities referencing all the domains of the PCF (BASW, 2018), The Professional Standards (SWE, 2019), and the BASW Social Media Policy (BASW, 2018)