Social workers protect millions of people every day. You are more important than ever during the unprecedented emergency response required for COVID-19. We know that this is a time of increasing anxiety for you both professionally and personally with the value of your work recognised in the government’s list of key workers. We want to thank you for everything you are doing to help the most vulnerable people in society.

We understand that there are many questions and concerns being shared with us, some of which we can answer and many of which we need to work collectively with others to resolve. We are working closely with the government, the Chief Social Workers, other regulators, employers and education providers on the issues you face. Social Work England works as part of a complex system and collaboration will be key for all of us, in order that we continue to put people at the centre of decisions and find our way through this together.

As you know this is a fast moving picture so here’s a roundup of the key information we are aware of to date. We will continue to update our website and Twitter @SocialWorkEng whenever we receive further information or can offer more advice. Please do check these regularly for updates.

 

Your online account
In times of emergency, staying up to date and connected is critical, so we’re asking anyone who has not already activated their online account to do so as soon as possible.

If you were previously registered with HCPC, you will already have an online account. To activate the online account, you just need to create a password. When you’re asked to enter your email, please use the primary email address you supplied to HCPC.

Once set up and logged in, please review your contact details and make sure your employment information is up to date.

Your registration
We recognise that now is a challenging time for you as a registered social worker as you find new ways of working to provide support in the safest way possible.

We continue to be in conversations with our partners about this, including guidance on protective equipment (PPE) for social workers (with the Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Education), deployment of former social workers (with the Local Government Association), and education providers about student placements during this period. We will continue to share updates as soon as we have them.

How to get involved if you’re not currently practising
We’re getting a lot of enquiries from registered social workers who are not currently practising about how they can help during the outbreak.

Employers are still assessing their needs, but we’re working with everyone across the sector to help make the information you need available as soon as possible.

Temporary registration
You may have seen our plans to register 8,000 social workers who have left the profession in the last two years to help at this time. The list of temporary registered social workers will be available from Friday 27 March and will be closed at the end of the emergency.

If, during the period that the temporary register is in place, you wish to voluntarily remove yourself from the register of social workers, you will be automatically added to this list. If you don’t wish for this to happen, you  will need to opt out using this form.

If you wish to help but are not someone who has currently been identified as a temporary registrant, we hope to be able to provide more information about how you can do this on our website.

Your professional standards and fitness to practise
Our regulatory standards are designed to be flexible and to provide a framework for decision making in a wide range of situations. The specialist professional standards set out what is expected of you as a social worker.

We recognise that the individuals on our register may feel anxious about how context is taken into account when concerns are raised in very challenging circumstances. Where a concern is raised about a social worker, it will always be considered on the specific facts of the case, including the environment in which the professional is working, taking into account relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time.

Advice for employers
We recognise the ongoing need for specialist guidance for social work employers. We continue to work with government in relation to this and would urge you to read the latest guidance for adult social care and vulnerable young people and adults.

Employers should take all necessary steps to make sure staff are suitably equipped and have the right information to minimise the risk of transmission based on government guidelines.

Advice for students
We are working with providers to facilitate adjustments to courses wherever possible. The goal is to keep disruption to a minimum where placements can continue.

In these exceptional circumstances, it may be that placements need to be extended or completed at a later stage in order to meet the standards, but wherever possible we are trying to minimise the impact on students and we’ll continue to provide updates soon.

We recognise that many students want to support local services. At present we are not registering students as part of the emergency registration efforts. As ever the picture is continually changing and this is something that we will be seeking to continue conversations on with our partners over the coming weeks.

Direct Debits
For those of you that paid your HCPC registration fee in instalments, we have moved the date of the Direct Debit due 1 April to 4 May 2020. Next year, the second registration fee instalment will be taken on 1 April as normal.

Our phone lines are busy
We’re currently experiencing a high volume of calls, and are operating a more limited telephone service. We’re doing our best to answer your calls as quickly as possible, but please help us by only calling if you need to speak to someone. We will be able to get back to you more quickly at enquiries@socialworkengland.org.uk

More information and advice
We will continue to update our dedicated coronavirus pages as and when we have further information and guidance. You can also read our regularly updated news and blogs and follow us on Twitter @SocialWorkEng for live updates.

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