In the UK, around 100,000 people are employed in social work – that includes adult social workers, children’s social workers, mental health social workers and more specialised professionals. Though they make up a small proportion of the population, social workers have an undeniable impact on the wellbeing of individuals and communities and never has this been more apparent than during the current global health crisis.
Local authorities are anticipating a heightened demand for trained social workers as the country eases out of lockdown. However, the projected numbers don’t match the number of professionals currently working so a cohort of temporary social workers is being urged to re-join the workforce. The question remains though – can these temporary social workers help with the fallout from Covid-19 and will they prove to be essential post-pandemic?
How social worker status is being made more accessible
Social Work England has identified a list of 8,000 people who have left their social work profession in the previous two years. In creating this list, the registration body has temporarily granted ‘social worker’ status to these previous practitioners to encourage them back into employment. Temporary social workers won’t have to pay registration fees and are exempt from fitness to practice protocols in the hopes that more people will use their temporary status to help tackle the fallout from Covid-19. The health and social care workforce gap has been widening over the years and initiatives like these have demonstrated the need to make the sector more accessible.
The temporary registration plan was initiated by the Coronavirus Act in response to the rising demand for social workers and works on an opt-out basis meaning that registrants don’t have to complete any paperwork. Instead, they’ll automatically be added to the list which can then be accessed by employers. Alongside the list, Social Work England has been reaching out to registered social workers who aren’t currently in employment.
One approach to encourage these social workers to seek out employment is to offer more flexible working options such as locum social work. Locum social workers enjoy the benefits that come with temporary contracts, and when signed up with an agency they are typically assigned a dedicated recruitment consultant who will support them with job seeking process and throughout their contract.
Campaigning for a united workforce
The Social Work Together campaign is a collaborative effort between the Department for Education, the Department for Health and Social Care, and local authorities. This has enabled social workers to take control and connect themselves with local employers and is considered one of the key initiatives to get social workers back into work. If you’re looking to re-join the workforce after a break, here are 5 things you should always include on a social work CV.
How they’ll help children’s services
Regulating bodies are anticipating a disproportionate demand for temporary children’s social workers. Despite children’s services referrals having dropped in recent months, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services revealed that a “huge spike” is expected as children return to school and issues come to light.
The 2019 children’s social work workforce survey revealed that caseloads were dropping for the second year running, however, temporary social workers are needed to meet the expected rise in referrals. Children may not have been receiving appropriate care in lockdown and some will have experienced emotional struggles, being isolated from their friends, worrying about their future and adapting to the many new changes. The effects of this will be seen for years to come so a temporary cohort will not be sufficient in this case. Procedures need to be put in place to encourage workers to return to work full-time where possible and a greater focus must be placed on retaining social workers.
Supporting mental health
In their mental health report, Mind reported that 60% of adults and 68% of young people have experienced a decline in their mental health since the outbreak of Covid-19. This has been a wake-up call that more resources need to be injected into mental health so that social workers can empower mental health patients to live their lives independently. A temporary workforce would help reach the patients who have been unable to access services during the months in lockdown and ensure that they receive the support they need before their mental health declines any further. These mental health patients will need ongoing support – beyond Covid-19 – meaning the temporary workforce will prove essential in the post-pandemic world.
These temporary social workers help patients create a care plan, using a relationship-based approach to also work with the patient’s family or support system and develop a united solution. However, before social workers support mental health patients, first they must protect their own wellbeing – here are 7 tips for reducing stress as a social worker.
Are you ready to re-join the workforce?
If you want to help with the fallout from Covid-19 then we want to help you. Since 2009, Charles Hunter Associates has been recruiting social workers for both contract and permanent positions around the UK. As a specialist recruitment agency, we want to offer our expertise to those who’ve taken a step back from social work. Start the search for your nextsocial work job or if you’re looking for more information here’s how to choose an umbrella company.