Question ahone Social Sciences

What are service users’/carers’ expectations of social workers?

what are service users/carers expectation of social workers

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Answer Expert #931

The relationship between social workers and the people they work with can be critical to delivering effective social work interventions. One of the key expectations of social workers is that they have a respect for the inherent dignity and self-worth of the individual (British Association of Social Workers, 2012), and so the minimum requirements should be that social workers will work to uphold the well-being of individuals, respect the right to self-determination and act in an honest and trustworthy manner.

Professional standards and codes further emphasise what service users and carers can expect of social workers. The Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC) expects social workers to practice in a non-discriminatory manner; to adapt practice to the cultural needs of individuals and their families; and to promote the best interests of service users at all times (HCPC, 2012). Other commentators argue that a balanced relationship between professional and service user is critical and that work is done ‘with’ rather than ‘to’ or ‘for’ people (O’Connor et al., 2016).

Expectations laid out in the National Occupational Standards for Social Work also list aspects of practice linked to communication with service users and carers that should be adhered to. Social workers, for example, should clearly explain the purpose of any assessment of intervention; they should be open and honest about they can and cannot do, and they should involve service users and carers in decision making (Topss UK Partnership, 2002). It should be acknowledged that service users and carers generally encounter social workers at difficult and stressful times in their lives. Whilst expectations might vary, the minimum that any service user or carer should expect is openness, honesty, professionalism, and a commitment to make a positive difference to the situation at hand.


BASW (2014) Code of Ethics [Online] Available: [] accessed 27th November 2016

HCPC (201) Standard of Proficiency [Online] Available [] accessed 27th November 2016

O’Connor, I., Hughes, M., Turney, D., Wlison, J. and Setterlund, D. (2016) Social Work and Social Care Practice. London: SAGE

TOPSS UK Partnership (2002) National Occupational Standards for Social Work [Online] Available: [] accessed 27th November 2016