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31/03/2023  •  Blog

Different types of social workers and their daily roles

Social work is a rewarding career where you advocate for people often in difficult situations and help them to gain access to the care and services that they need in order to be able to live well.  

The people you support and the settings you work in will depend on the types of social work you choose to work within. You may work with families, children, adults or the elderly. Alternatively, you may support those with emotional or physical health challenges, people with addiction issues, or those who need legal support.  

In this article, we’ve looked at different types of social workers along with their roles and responsibilities. Whether you’re new to the profession or are a social worker looking to make a career change, there are many different paths and opportunities available to you.

Child protection social workers

If you’re passionate about working within children’s services and making a positive impact on the lives of young people, you may want to consider child protection roles. These types of social workers will often work for local authorities, private organisations, NHS Trusts or charities.  

Child protection social workers are responsible for assessing the living situations of children, helping to improve their circumstances or the relationships they have with parents or carers. This involves: 

  • Evaluating cases, such as when child abuse is reported 
  • Making assessments on the most appropriate action to take 
  • Supporting children with rehabilitation 
  • Creating and implementing child protection plans 
  • Maintaining regular reports 
  • Intervening to have a child, or children, transferred to a safer environment, in serious cases 
  • Referring children to further services, as individually appropriate 

Where children are found to be at risk, your work can involve reporting parents or carers to authorities. You could also be supporting children through rehabilitation from situations such as child abuse, where they have already been transferred from their previous home. Alternatively, you could be helping children to rehabilitate back into the family unit. 

Referral and assessment social workers

Referral and assessment social workers make sure that referrals for adults or children are handled appropriately. In this role, you will oversee the delivery of high-quality care or support, as necessary, prioritising the timing of responses accordingly.  
Some people, such as at-risk children or vulnerable adults with special needs, may need you to initiate urgent protective action. In other cases, you may need to liaise with healthcare teams to arrange treatment or other services. 
You will work with a referral team to coordinate actions. This might involve organising assessments as well as investigations, such as interviews with families, carers or other people in service users’ lives. Another of your core responsibilities will be to monitor the progress of treatment plans, evaluating their effectiveness and modifying them if needed. 

Browse our social work job vacancies

As the leading social work recruitment agency in the UK, Liquid has hundreds of jobs in social work available. Browse our vacancies and apply today.

Fostering social workers

As a fostering social worker, you will provide support and guidance to foster carers and the children in their care, working to establish and build relationships to ensure everyone is well-supported.   

Fostering social workers are responsible for the following areas: 

  • Providing guidance and support to carers and their families
  • Directly supervising as children integrate into a home
  • Working with stakeholders to present cases and arrange care
  • Completing assessments and keeping records of activity
  • Working towards deadlines to file necessary paperwork for case management hearings
  • Appearing before fostering panels to make recommendations about children’s care
  • Taking necessary actions following court orders

Healthcare and hospital social workers

Social work in healthcare falls within a range of areas. If this type of social work role is something you’d like to explore, you will often be supporting people in the following ways:  

  • Helping people access the support they need for their mental or physical health, within environments such as clinics, schools, or private practices 
  • Acting as an advocate for patients 
  • Providing advice and guidance to patients, family members and health professionals 
  • Facilitating treatment and other forms of support 

When working in hospitals, social workers within hospitals are also responsible for: 

  • Looking after patients and their families within the setting 
  • Updating patient records 
  • Working with medical teams and families to organise care 
  • Admitting and discharging patients 

Adult safeguarding social workers

Adult safeguarding roles will typically see you protecting the safety of vulnerable adults. You will work to prevent, end or reduce the risk of people experiencing abuse, harm or neglect. In your role, you will support people to make their own choices when possible, providing them with freedom and autonomy while ensuring that they remain safe and well.  
As an adult safeguarding social worker, you may work exclusively with one group of people, such as the elderly, people with disabilities or those with mental health conditions. You may also spend time raising public awareness about potential harm to adults so that professionals and communities can help to identify and report abuse and neglect.

Criminal justice social workers

Also known as forensic social work, this practice relates to any work within the legal system. There are various responsibilities involved with the role of a criminal justice social worker, including: 

  • Providing support and guidance within their current situation, either in prison or rehabilitation;
  • Helping them to recover from their experiences, with diagnosis and recommendations of appropriate treatment or other courses of action;
  • Providing them with practical tools and conditions to work towards future goals and avoid reoffending 
  • Supporting people with legal rights and rehabilitation, in settings such as prisons, local authorities and prisons 
  • Working with current or former prisoners in areas such as: 
    • Providing support and guidance within their current situation, either in prison or rehabilitation 
    • Helping them to recover from their experiences, with diagnosis and recommendations of appropriate treatment or other courses of action 
    • Providing them with practical tools and conditions to work towards future goals and avoid reoffending 
  • Providing mediation to others interacting with the criminal justice system, such as people involved in child custody cases 

Care Act Assessment social workers

Care Act Assessment social workers are responsible for ensuring the effective treatment and care of adults, in line with the Care Act. Some of your responsibilities would involve: 

  • Working with adults in care with different types of needs; for example, those living with dementia 
  • Managing referrals and initiating relevant courses of action  
  • Ensuring that appropriate treatment plans are carried out effectively 
  • Staying informed on legislation and government policy around the types of people you work with, such as the elderly 
  • Keeping your knowledge updated around other relevant laws, such as the Mental Capacity Act

Social work roles with Liquid Personnel

At Liquid, we are highly experienced in recruiting different types of social workers. Our teams have unparalleled knowledge of the sector, so will be able to help you grow your career in a way that suits your life, preferred ways of working and future career goals. With a highly diverse range of vacancies, including exciting opportunities in permanent and locum roles, you are sure to find a social work role that is perfect for you.  
Register with Liquid today and let us help you to find roles that tick all your boxes. 

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