Today, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has become the first organisation to map out a specific set of knowledge and skills for social work with older people, and a pathway for social workers to develop these skills to ensure older people are receiving the best service possible.
Launched at the National Children and Adult Services (NCAS) conference, and endorsed by the Department of Health, BASW’s Capabilities Statement and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Pathway addresses what social work means for older people and the need and requirements for excellent social work practice.
Older people are the biggest users of social care and health, and while some of the knowledge and skills required to work with this sector are imbedded in general social work training and practice, BASW has identified clear specialist elements that are required.
The Capabilities Statement explains what social workers know and can do, and the values that underpin how we work with older people.
The Pathway sets out how social workers can learn and develop so they have the capabilities in the capabilities statement - the knowledge, skills and values that older people want and need.
“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,” said a service user in an older people’s forum organised by BASW.
BASW understands that as older people and older carers live longer, they face more complex situations and there is greater demand for social care.
Social workers are experts in building relationships to understand what older people need, identifying how to increase wellbeing, and coordinating support in complex situations. Therefore, social workers have a crucial role in ensuring that older people get the right care and support at the right time.
Despite the importance of social work for older people, until now we have not had clarity about what social workers offer and the expertise that they bring to this work.
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.
Please share this Statement and Pathway, and use them to enhance this vital area of social work.