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Updates on Covid 19 practice and health and safety guidance for social work

Professional practice guidance and resources developed by BASW

Message from Ruth Allen, BASW Chief Executive

From the very first weeks of the pandemic in March, we worked on providing practical guidance for social workers in different work settings – often stepping on where there was no national guidance available at the time.  Deliberately, we made these documents as generically useful and adaptable as possible and signposted social workers to where they could get sources of rolling updates such as from public health leaders. 

We particularly wanted to provide guidance and professional standards that would both promote good practice and support all social workers’ right to safe working conditions as well as the right protective equipment and risk protocols to continue carrying out your vital work.  We worked with the Social Workers Union on joint health and safety advice in particular.

We also provided specific guidance of safety that took account of the differential risks for black and minority ethnic colleagues and social workers with other elevated risk factors based on matters such as age, health conditions and caring responsibilities.

We have now reviewed these guides and, apart from a few awaiting final inputs from others, the revised versions are online. We are pleased to say that the majority were still highly relevant and fit for purpose – not least as we have seen a ‘second wave’ with more lock down and tiers being needed.  As we approach the festive season, many of us may have tensions between expected sociability and safety, and people we are working with (colleagues and people using services) may have had unknown additional exposures during this time.  These guides might be particularly useful again, walking you through risk assessment and helping us all remember we are still in the pandemic.

We have only made minor changes. There are two main areas of update; the possible benefit over time of vaccination and the ethical dilemmas for the profession of what happens to people when social workers can’t meet face to face. We knew in the early months this would be an issue and it has continued, with concerns about delayed referrals of children and young people, potential lack of access to adults who may be at safeguarding risk and concerns about services and prevention support being stopped, impacted people and their families and carers.

We hope these remain useful documents, we will complete the final few from the suite of documents soon and please do feedback your views.


You can view all the Covid 19 practice and health and safety guidance here.  Updates have now been made to the following guidance and resources:

Covid-19 Pandemic – Ethical Guidance for Social Workers

Professional practice guidance for home visits during Covid-19 Pandemic

Professional practice guidance for hospital social work with adults during Covid-19

End of Life social work during Covid-19

Social Work in Multi-Disciplinary and Multi-Agency Contexts during Covid-19

Guidance for Safeguarding Adults during Covid-19

Guidance for Safeguarding Adults during Covid-19 Pandemic.  Addendum: Safeguarding adults in placements

Face to Face Visit Checklist During Covid-19

COVID 19 Staff Risk Assessment Guide and Flowchart

SWU Health and Safety during Covid-19: Position Statement