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Blog: Introducing the PCF, KSS and Regulatory Standards mapping guide

BASW England Professional Officer Rebekah Pierre introduces a new mapping guide to help social workers and colleagues understand how PCF, KSS and regulatory standards relate to each other

On 28 January we are hosting a webinar to mark the launch of the mapping guide – book your place now

At this time of new and difficult dilemmas of ethics and values, it is essential social workers in England are supported to make use of the professional guidance and standards that shape practice and priorities.

These can seem confusing – and in this time of professional and personal hardship and pressure, we need to do all we can to reduce confusion and increase coherence.

You spoke, we listened

Social workers have asked for guidance and mapping documents for the PCF, Regulatory standards and Knowledge and Skills Statement – and this mapping guidance has been developed in response.

More than ever, practitioners of all levels need clarity as to how best to respond to ethical and moral dilemmas. Such guidance exists, but with several parallel frameworks (PCF, KSS and Regulatory Standards amongst others), members requested a mapping document to clearly outline how the three align.

We listened to your request, and partnered with stakeholders including Social Work England, the Department for Health and Social Care, the Department for Education, JCUSWEC, Skills for Care, valued BASW members and others to produce this.

For practitioners who are visual learners like myself, the guidance is highly accessible in that it uses clear, easy-to-understand diagrams which clearly delineate how the capabilities intertwine.

For this reason, it is an invaluable guide for those at the dawn of their career – despite incredible efforts from social work educators, students are currently having to absorb an enormous amount of information virtually, which underscores the need for clear, concise information to support learning.

“I hope social workers in England will find this guidance clear and supportive,” said Ruth Allen, BASW CEO. “No profession is defined just by one set of standards or one perspective on what good practice looks like.

“We have minimum regulatory standards form Social Work England, occupational and role standards which are supported in some roles by the Knowledge and Skills Statements, and we have overarching, aspirational capabilities throughout our careers as laid out in the Professional Capabilities Statement.

“We all have a professional responsibility to understand the value of each of these – and I see it as BASW’s job to help make this clearer. I hope this mapping document really helps and look forward to feedback from the sector on how we can take it forward.”

Purpose of the Guidance

The document is intended to help practitioners at all levels, including social workers, social work educators, supervisors, managers and leaders understand how the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF), the Knowledge and Skills Statements (KSS) and the professional regulatory standards of Social Work England (the regulatory standards) relate to each other and how they have different, complementary roles to play in promoting excellent social work and supporting practice development.

The guidance will also help practitioners understand how the PCF can continue to support ongoing development and achievements as various milestones are reached throughout their career.

Moral dilemmas

Social work is not an exact science, and even under normal circumstances, navigating through complex ethical dilemmas is an inevitable by-product of our work.

Often, there is no black and white answer when it comes to how best to safeguard the most vulnerable, and there are many conflicting factors – social. emotional, physical, cultural, and educational to name but a few, to consider.

But the advent of the coronavirus has meant that the spectrum of morality is increasingly grey; according to our ‘Social Work during Coronavirus Survey’, 50% of respondents said that they had experienced moral dilemmas as a direct result of the pandemic.

And it is no wonder – despite working harder than ever (with 87% reporting that they are working more) 66% of social workers said their opportunity to safeguard adults or children during the pandemic is worse.

This is saddening, yet hardly surprising.

Against the backdrop of a decade of austerity, where resources were already scarce and disaster planning almost absent, social workers at all stages of their career have reported practising in the context of unimaginable personal and professional hardship. Such conditions would have been unimaginable even 12 months ago.

It is our hope that this guidance will serve as a compass which will support social workers in the incredible work they are already doing, particularly when it comes to navigating through increasingly challenging ethical terrains.