Skip to main content

Capabilities Statement for social workers in England who work with older people

This Capabilities Statement (the Statement) sets out the knowledge, skills and values that social workers need to work well with older people.

The Statement was developed by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) in partnership with stakeholders, including social workers and older people, those who support them as carers and family members, and relevant organisations. The Statement is owned by the social work profession, through BASW. It is endorsed by the Department of Health and implemented by the adult social care sector.

The Statement sets out enhanced capabilities for five different levels of a social work career, based on the levels in the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) for social workers in England. The main capabilities are aimed at social workers and experienced social workers who work directly with older people in any setting. This is where particular knowledge, skills and values relating to older people are most required. The Statement also sets out capabilities to consider in social work qualifying courses and in the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE), where it is important to consider social work with older people. It also includes capabilities for social workers working at advanced and at strategic levels. These levels will oversee and lead social work with older people. (See Appendix 2).

These capabilities do not duplicate the registration standards, the capabilities in the PCF or the Knowledge and Skills Statements (KSS). Instead they provide more specific and detailed capabilities that enhance social work with older people. (See Appendix 3).

We recognise that many social workers who work with older people also work with younger adults and families. Social workers in any role can look at the capabilities and see how, in particular, they can develop in order to work well with older people.

The Statement provides a national set of capabilities for social work with older people in England. There is no requirement to meet all of the capabilities. They are not mandatory and are not a checklist. They are intended as helpful guidance to enhance social work development and recognition in this essential area of social work. They reflect what the evidence suggests will promote older people’s well-being.

Developing individual capabilities requires a commitment to continuing professional development (CPD) by social workers. It also requires appropriate support from educators, managers, employers and government. Alongside this Statement there is a CPD Pathway that sets out how social workers can learn and develop, and be supported to acquire the capabilities in the Statement.