Social Worker, Adult Services

People can be mystifying, aggravating, fascinating, and rewarding.  They can provide a challenge to those who work with them. The older person may appear threatening,  noisy, and confused.  But to social workers he may be depressed, frightened and lonely and it is their job to help him and the local community understand the presenting concerns.  Social Workers organise care and support the more vulnerable members of society, assess their needs and provide services to meet those needs.  It is a sensitive job and there is the opportunity to specialize in other areas of social work such as children's services.

Work Environment
The work is based in the offices of the social services department but also takes place in other settings such as community hospitals, residential and day care centres or private homes - where people with complex problems exist in circumstances in which their liberty or safety is at risk.  Tasks undertaken outside the office often involve a degree of isolation with physical and emotional risks.

Daily Activities
Regular daily requirements include visiting older people, people with mental health problems or learning difficulties wherever they are - at home or in a care centre or hospital.  Sometimes visits may be made to the homes of the carers.  There are meetings to attend, substantial reports to write, liaison with other professionals and constant planning and reviewing of procedures and progress.  There may also be a need to attend court hearings on behalf of a client.  Social workers may also take part in special projects such as organising case conferences and contributing to service developments.  There is considerable scope for using individual initiative but in many cases - for example in hospital work where there is a need for a multi-disciplinary approach - team work is essential.  Deadlines are imposed by statutory legal requirements and by the needs of colleagues - for instance over health issues such as problems arising from the shortage of hospital beds.  Each day will involve liaising with social services colleagues, other council departments, voluntary and private sector services such as housing and health, carers, GPs, the police, the courts and the general public.

Skills & Interests
The social worker needs to care about people and in this case the elderly, and so must have:

  • the ability to communicate with people from all walks of life; 
  • respect for the rights of elderly people;
  • an ability to identify and challenge discrimination;
  • good interviewing, listening and observation skills;
  • negotiating and organising skills;
  • the ability to deal with difficult situations and conflict;
  • a stable temperament;
  • good report writing skills.

Being able to use a computer and drive a car is also necessary.

Entry Requirements
In Wales the professional qualifying training for social workers is a degree in social work approved by the Care Council for Wales (CCW).  The Undergraduate degree is a three year programme and entrance is via approved universities, who determine their own conditions for entry.  The Post Graduate degree is a two year programme and entrance is via approved universities who also determine their own conditions for entry.  The previous professional qualification, the Diploma in Social Work (DipSW), is still recognised as a valid social work qualification.  Those wishing to pursue a degree in social work will need GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and Mathematics at grade C or above.  Although universities will set their own conditions of entrance, possible useful A-level (or equivalent) subjects would be law, sociology or psychology.  Vocational GCSEs, QCFs and A-level subjects may also be useful. 

Future Prospects & Opportunities
Social work is a rapidly growing field and there are good promotion prospects, structured professional development programmes and on the job training.  The Care Council for Wales is introducing qualification requirements for social workers known as the Continuing Professional Education and Learning Framework (CPEL).  The full CPEL Framework will describe the minimum arrangements for the continuing professional education and learning of social workers after initial qualification.  The overall objectives are to ensure that CPEL improves the standard of social work practice and assists with the development of experienced social work practitioners.  The development and implementation of the CPEL Framework starts with the Consolidation Programme which is for newly qualified social workers.  There will then be relevant levels of training on offer to Social Workers that will meet their developing professional careers as they move towards being an Experienced Practitioner, a Team Manager or a Consultant Social  Worker.

Further Information & Services
British Association of Social Workers
Care Council for Wales
Community Care
Community Service Volunteers
Health & Care Professions Council
Homes & Communities Agency
Skills for Care
Social Care Association

The Open University has produced an interactive resource exploring a day in the life of a social worker: 

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

Related Links