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How can locum social workers improve their skills

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How can locum social workers improve their skills

There are currently 6,090 locum social workers who specialise in children’s care and that number doesn’t account for the thousands more helping adults and their communities. Locum social workers play an essential role in the social work sector and have an undeniable impact on our society. Though the contract positions are in part designed to help cover sick and maternity leave and assist with short-term projects, locum social workers work alongside permanent staff and often have the same range of responsibilities. Social workers receive a high level of training before they become qualified but there’s always the opportunity to learn more and provide an even better service. Below are some tips to help locum social worker improve their skills.


Your continuing professional development is designed to ensure that you’re maintaining core skills, providing research-led practice and improving the quality of care that patients receive. CPD is a requirement for all social workers but some stand to gain more from it than others. Locum social workers who like the flexibility of a temporary job may decide to have breaks between jobs, so reflecting on their everyday practice is essential and will help to cement their learning. To make sure that you get the most out of CPD, regularly make a log of your learning and foster an open learning culture in your workplace. Remember that there are various examples of work-based learning, including case studies, articles, webinars, theories, supervising other social workers and formal training.

A relationship-based approach

A locum social worker job is suited to those seeking short to medium term employment. And though you have all the same responsibilities as a permanent social worker, you may have a shorter time frame to build a relationship with your patient. Locum social workers are well-practiced at developing these strong connections but in order to work collaboratively with people and their support system, arelationship-based approach is necessary. This theory is centred around the understanding that relationships are complex and that a social worker’s relationship with the patient should exist at the heart of their practice. Locum social workers who adopt this approach – whether they're working in a charity, hospital or residential home - will see an improvement in their service and their intervention practices. 

Enrol on a course

Formal training is a great way to further your learning and improve your locum social worker skills. Though social workers work directly with vulnerable people who are potentially a risk to themselves, they aren’t required to complete first aid training. If you want to improve your first response skills here’s aSocial Care Workers’ Guide to First Aid Training.

Despite mental health problems affecting around a quarter of the population – and a 43% increase in cases following coronavirus - mental health first aid training is not yet commonplace. Though not every locum social worker will work with patients who have known mental health conditions, it’s important to be aware of the signs of deteriorating mental health and to know when to intervene so that a patient can receive treatment before their symptoms worsen. And, because it’s just as important to dedicate time to looking after your mental health and workplace wellbeing, here are seven tips for reducing stress as a social worker.

Aside from these short courses and attending social work seminars – in-person or virtual - locum staff can improve their skills by enrolling on one of the Social Work England Approved Courses.

Find a social worker recruitment agency

Whatever reason you’ve gone down the locum route, either to achieve a better work-life balance or to enjoy a little more flexibility, you can have a huge impact on people’s lives. With the above tips, you can improve your locum social worker skills, regardless of whether you’re currently in employment or between jobs. If you’re looking for your next role then you need to find a recruitment agency who will support you through the job seeking process, during assignments and beyond.

As a specialist social work recruitment agency with over a decade experience recruiting in the sector, Charles Hunter is not only able to offer career advice but can also keep you informed about regulation changes and choosing the right Umbrella Company for you. This leaves you more time to focus on helping people and doing what you love. 

Find all our locum social worker jobs here and get your application going.