Last reviewed 11 June 2019

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has warned that social workers must become more confident using technology or risk being “left behind” other sectors.

BASW Chief Executive Dr Ruth Allen said there was “a big gap” in understanding that had to be addressed by the social workers’ profession. She added that there was “a lot of anxiety” around the use of technology within the sector and said a recently launched project aims to make practitioners have a “much more positive view” about digital.

The BASW project aims to improve practitioners’ digital skills and investigate how they can be better supported to work with digital tools.

BASW, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) were commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) to carry out the work. The main priority is to establish a list of digital capabilities to support social work practice.

Project Manager and SCIE Associate Iris Steen said existing frameworks gave “little to no reference” to digital skills and capabilities.

She added: “This project is about exploring what are those core competencies and how can they be built in to the existing and developing frameworks for social workers training, development, practise and regulation.”

The project is part of a wider Building a Digital Ready Workforce (BDRW) programme that will run until March 2020. Its aim is to help professionals in health and social care deliver the outcomes of their role “quicker, easier, safer and at a higher level of quality”.

Ruth Allen confirmed that professionals will able to take part in a survey this month, asking people about their experiences to date, their learning needs, and their learning journey. She said: “We want to find out from people what they already know, what their educational needs are, what their workplace needs are. This will include professionals from different levels, so people in direct practice, people who are new to practice and people who are supervising managing or leading”.

She added BASW will help with hosting a consultation and arranging involvement activities. She confirmed that some areas that may need further investigation include looking at how social workers can understand the scope of digital technologies that could be most useful to service users and to them as workers, and ensuring that social workers know how to protect themselves from exposure when using social media.