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Image problem is still an issue, MPs hear

Social workers still suffer from an image problem, MPs were told by a social worker at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Work’s inquiry into the state of the profession.

The social worker, who preferred not to divulge her identity, said the profession needed to work hard to sell itself. She said the term ‘social worker’ has some very negative connotations with service users and carers despite, in many situations, providing a good service.

Asked by the Acting Chair of the APPG, Mike Wood, to comment on the relationship between social workers and clinicians in her hospital ward, she said: “Our work as a member of the multi-disciplinary team is positive and social work has an essential role to play in a health care setting. The best way to establish social work in a health setting is by doing it. If you do a good job and it builds support in that team, the payback is huge for all involved.

“We have to keep being very positive and client focused. Sometimes I don’t describe myself as a social worker because of the stigma and associations. Sometimes you just have to play it in a different way.”

Another social worker told MPs: “Sometimes I don’t think social workers are valued for their opinions even though their knowledge isn’t just through social work but working in an NHS setting. Because of that the medical staff sometimes lose out and patients suffer, in my view.”