Do you know your values and ethics?

Social workers in the UK are expected to follow the Code of Ethics published by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). This code provides a set of guidelines that social workers should abide by in their professional practice, with the aim of promoting social justice and improving the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

While it’s good to remind yourself of these guidelines, 14 pages is a lot of information to wade through so we decided to summarise the key points below. Don’t say we don’t spoil you…

1. Professionalism 

Maintaining professional integrity is key to promoting excellent practice as a social worker. For example, remaining calm and collected in challenging circumstances, taking initiative and seeking support from your supervisor when necessary. 

2. Values and ethics

As a social worker, you will be working closely with service users and this needs to be done with respect and a great level of care. This includes respecting human dignity and worth, as well as advocating for clients’ rights. Each decision you make should be underpinned by the confident application of ethical reasoning and relevant law. 

3. Diversity and equality 

BASW defines diversity as ‘race, disability, class, economic status, age, sexuality, gender (including transgender), faith and belief, and the intersection of these and other characteristics.’ Social workers must take different life experiences into consideration (e.g. some may have experienced oppression, while others have experienced privilege) and strive to promote equality in all they do. 

4. Rights, justice and economic wellbeing 

Social workers work in collaboration with service users to ‘challenge inequality and injustice, and promote strengths, agency, hope and self-determination.’ Social justice, social inclusion and equality should always be the driving force behind your practice.  

5. Knowledge 

Use your industry knowledge, learnings and experience to improve practice. This includes welfare policy, theories for social work intervention and research methods – all of which you should demonstrate a critical understanding of and use to inform your practice. 

6. Critical reflection 

As with anything in life, it is important to reflect on your progress and evaluate what went well and what could be improved on. This will ensure that you are providing the highest quality care to service users while developing your skills as a social worker. Once you feel competent, you could also provide professional leadership to colleagues based on your learnings.

7. Skills and interventions 

Social workers are expected to use professional judgement and authority to provide support for individuals, families and communities. The main goal is to reach a positive outcome for the service user, which means promoting independence and mitigating harm along the way. 

8. Contexts and organisations

Be conscious of the social, cultural, and environmental context in which you operate, and of the impact of social policies and organisational cultures on service users and professionals. The code of conduct highlights the need for social workers to be collaborative here, as well as reiterating the importance of self-care when working in particularly challenging environments. 

9. Professional leadership 

Finally, social workers are encouraged to be proactive in their own learning and professional development. For example, through activities such as supervising, researching, educating others, writing and using social media to make positive change.

We hope you found this blog useful – feel free to bookmark for a future date and share it with colleagues who might want to brush up on their knowledge! 

carlette Isaac

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