What is the Social Work Professional Support Service?

BASW has been consulting with social workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This has given us rich insight into the challenges that our members are experiencing and the current concerns they have. The new Social Work Professional Support Service is a peer-to-peer listening service in which trained volunteer coaches are able to support colleagues across the profession during COVID and beyond. Designed to support wellbeing and address practice concerns, this peer-to-peer service will offer a space for:

  • Listening to explore experiences, issues and emotions that have arisen during practice
  • Reflection to help explore behaviours and beliefs
  • Resourcefulness in thinking about best practice guidance, career development and working with other organisations, agencies, and frameworks.

BASW is committed to an action plan on equality, diversity, and inclusion. Eligible members from different backgrounds and identities, and at any stage of career, are encouraged to apply. We aim to be inclusive and remove barriers to involvement based on age, disability, sex, gender/gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy/maternity, marriage, and civil partnership.

Why was the Social Work Professional Support Service set up?

In March 2020,BASW launched its ‘Voices of social workers through Covid-19’ survey which identified areas in which social workers were struggling and seeking support. As a result of this, BASW made the decision to launch a peer-to-peer support service to provide its members with an opportunity to support each other through the crisis and beyond.

How do I access support?

You can access support here. You will need to complete a simple online form, in which you will be asked for some basic contact details to enable us to set you up on our secure platform.

Once we’ve set you up, you will receive an email from the PSS team with your login details and instructions on how to access the service. Once logged in, you will then be free to browse the register of volunteer coaches. From here you can find out more about the coaches, including location and specialism, to aid you in choosing who you think would suit you best.

Once you have chosen a coach, you will be able to select an appointment that is convenient for you. Coaching sessions are 1 hour long. Please note that while the service is nominally available from 8am-8pm throughout the week, each coach has determined their own appointment slots as volunteers, and as such do not offer 12 hour coverage every day (for example, they may have nominated just one appointment on a given day).

Once you have booked a session, you will be emailed with further information and instructions on how to join your session using the Microsoft Teams video conferencing system.

Coachees are offered up to three coaching sessions and then asked to take a short break of three months before accessing the service for another series of sessions.

Is the service confidential?

The professional relationship between the Social Work Professional Support Service volunteer coach and coachee is based on confidentiality. This means that anything discussed between them when they are in the coaching relationship is private and the volunteer coach will not repeat any conversations to other people. There are certain exceptions to this, and it is important that these are recognised and agreed at the start of the relationship

  • If both partners agree that, if necessary, the volunteer can speak to someone else about an issue or problem, they will agree who the volunteer will speak to. This might be their supervisor, a BASW representative, or other appropriately designated person.
  • If the volunteer believes there is a risk of harm to any person, based on something that the coachee has said, or that a concerning practice issue has come up, the Volunteer will be obliged to report the issue to their supervisor and/or other appropriate persons. This will be discussed with the coachee.

Volunteer coaches will ensure that conversations with coachees cannot be overhead by others, such as others in the household where the volunteer coach lives or in open-plan offices. A record will be kept of some basic details of the coaching conversations to allow for quality assurance and safeguarding. It is the responsibility of the volunteer coach to ensure that any records are kept securely in line with GDPR regulations and BASW guidance. A coachee can, at any time, request a copy of the information held about them.

How do you use my data?

BASW and Strengthening Practice are committed to responsible data management and subscribe to the principals of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in the United Kingdom. Emails and listing information processed through the Professional Support Service are stored within a Strengthening Practice server and are subject to BASW’s Data Protection and privacy policies. Your data will be used only for participation in the PSS and will not be used for any other purpose without your express knowledge and consent.

What other supports are available?

There are several options available for BASW members. The Advice and Representation service is a team of qualified social workers, offering professional and regulatory help. In June 2020, BASW published the ‘Social worker wellbeing and good practice’ good practice toolkit. There are also a range of supports available delivered through the four nations; BASW Cymru, BASW England, BASW Northern Ireland, and SASW.

How do I become a volunteer coach?

You can apply to become a volunteer coach here.

To become a volunteer coach, will need to complete an online form, in which you will be asked for your contact details, qualifications, experience and reasons you would like to become a coach.

The BASW admin team will then confirm your registration and may request evidence of your certifications (e.g. DBS) as part of your selection process. You may also be invited to an online interview. Should you be successful, you will take part in an induction process, in which we will take you through the system and how it all works. Upon successful completion of this, your details will be included on our volunteer coaches register.

You will be asked to commit to six months’ service at a minimum of four hours per month. You will also need to let us know your availability for at least one month in advance.

Social Workers will then be able to book an hour-long slot with you, where they will talk through any concerns they have. You will record key information about the session and signpost your colleague to any other appropriate service where necessary.  A maximum of three sessions can be accessed through the Professional Support Service at each occasion.

What training is involved?

Social Workers who wish to become volunteer coaches for the PSS will be required to undertake a CPD-accredited induction process. The duration of this process will be dependent on how much (if any) coaching experience you have already. The maximum CPD is nine hours.

For a non-experienced coach, the induction process takes place over three non-consecutive days using Microsoft Teams in a group setting. You will be trained by our partners, Strengthening Practice, leaders in social care coaching and training. You will be given an overview of the role, tools and models to learn how to coach effectively, and full training on processes, paperwork and policies.

For an experienced coach, the induction process is shorter and comprises a group discussion and a half day training on processes, paperwork and policies. This is also facilitated by Strengthening Practice. All volunteer coaches will receive their own Handbook which contains all of the information required.

How am I supported as a volunteer coach?

Volunteer coaches have access to regular group supervision including a reflective record for CPD portfolios. This will take place via Microsoft Teams and be led by Strengthening Practice, a leader in social care coaching and training. Strengthening Practice will also provide a contact for coaches who need to speak with someone urgently. This service is available 8am-8pm. Finally, coaches will also have access to a Useful Resources page in the Appendices of the Handbook.

I cannot remember my log in details or have a website problem

If you have any problems with the Social Work Professional Support Service website, such as forgotten login details or difficulties with forms, downloads, calendars or the general system, you can alert us to this by raising a ticket on the PSS IT support desk, which is managed by Strengthening Practice.  A member of staff will then work on whatever issue you are having, allowing you to return to the service as quickly as possible.

How do I make a complaint or pay a compliment?

You can make a complaint or pay a compliment about the Social Work Professional Support Service by following this link. You will then be contacted by BASW to follow up.

Who are Strengthening Practice?

BASW are partnering with Strengthening Practice, a relational social care training company, to deliver the Social Work Professional Support Service to BASW members in England and Northern Ireland and all social workers in Scotland and Wales, thanks to funding by the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

Strengthening Practice work with authorities across the UK, creating helpful training programmes and helping practitioners, managers and leaders in children’s and adult services, multi-agency partners and any professionals working with children, adults, and their families.

Completely customised according to identified needs, Strengthening Practice’s BASW-accredited programmes give staff the confidence and the tools they need to constantly improve in their work.

Strengthening Practice is also currently offering support, coaching, and learning to any authorities who want to continue developing their practice during these challenging times. Skilled, empathic and reflective social work practitioners offer space and time for social workers to bring their issues, worries and practice dilemmas in group session, offering guidance, frameworks for testing decision-making and knowledge, and tools to support critical thinking during each session. Learn more

How do I contact the BASW Professional Support Service?

You can contact the Social Work Professional Support Service by emailing: supportservices@basw.co.uk