By Amy Johnston
Social workers work to support those experiencing difficulty or to safeguard vulnerable people and children from harm. They can work in a variety of locations, from homes, schools, hospitals or within the private sector and voluntary organisations.
-One in 13 people are employed with social services, making this workforce larger than the NHS.
-The private sector employs 41% of the people working in social services in Scotland.
-The voluntary sector employs an increase towards 27% of the people working in social services in Scotland.
Social Services largest sub-sectors:
-Housing support/care at home
-Care homes for adults
-Day cares for children
(Social Services Workforce Data Report 2012)
You can become a social work assistant supporting a qualified social worker. Other job titles for this role include: community support worker, home care officer or social services assistant. Set yourself towards gaining experience of working in a voluntary or paid caring role. You can also work towards a series of qualifications:
- Level 2 Certificate in Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care
- Level 2 Diploma Health and Social Care
- Level 2 Award in Employment Responsibilities and Rights in Health, Social Care and Children and Young People’s Settings.
(National Careers Service)
In order to become a social worker, you will need to study an undergraduate degree or a two year post-graduate degree in social work. Both degrees need to be approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.
Type of social work:
Medical – assist patients and their families once they are discharged to home and provide supportive counselling.
School – help students overcome difficulties which may affect their learning, including social, behavioural, economic and emotional issues. Work on crisis intervention with problems regarding school violence and drug/alcohol related issues.
Clinical Social – provide mental health services including assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
Children and Families – counsel families, evaluate potential foster homes, find employment and housing for homeless families.
Nursing homes – look after the social and psychological well-being of nursing home residents and their families.
Acute psychiatric hospital – provide individual treatment, family therapy, group therapy, parental and marriage counseling.
Forensic – deal with issues such as punishment versus rehabilitation, deterrence and deciding whether offenders are capable of change. Use skills in restorative justice to provide expert testimony.
Employment/Occupational – help workers deal with issues affecting job performance and satisfaction
Ideas for work experience:
-Volunteer at a youth group or as a school mentor.
-Mentor people with mental health issues or physical disabilities.
-Contact your local council to volunteer at a care home or shadow a social worker.
-Assist elderly people with activity classes to improve their physical health.
-Run arts and crafts activities and encourage sing-a-long classes.
-Provide one-to-one IT coaching for elderly users.
If you are patient, understanding and caring, start volunteering and you can find yourself on the route to a career as a social worker. Make a difference.