Those employed in social work jobs work with those who have been socially excluded, or experiencing a crisis in their lives.  Rather than providing long term support, social services jobs are designed to enable service users to help themselves.  They would ,for example, act as guides, advocates or critical friends in order to achieve this aim.  Those considering social worker jobs will need strong social skills, but also the ability to remain calm and keep an open mind in difficult situations.

Social workers may be required to be involved in a variety of settings, depending on the needs of individual service users.  Typical settings might be the service user’s house, schools, hospitals, and other public sector organisations.  Social workers must be able to work alone but should not expect to be unsupported.  Once qualified, social work professionals are often supported by social work assistants.  Health and social care professionals are also likely to work closely with those in social worker jobs.  Recent government health legislation focusing on the integration of these areas means that people in these sectors often work in multidisciplinary teams.

Over half of social work jobs will involve working with children and their families, so a willingness to work with this group is important in this sector.  Social workers may also work with young offenders, those with mental health conditions, school non-attenders, drug and alcohol abusers, people with learning and physical disabilities, and the elderly.

Tasks can vary widely, from practical one-to-one help to seeing to the wider organisation of the lives of vulnerable people.  As with many jobs, paperwork is unavoidable in social services jobs.  Social workers will have to spend a fair amount of time undertaking and writing up assessments, often in conjunction with with medical and other professionals.  A lot of their time will be spent conducting interviews with service users and their families, to ensure they keep on top of their situation.  This will often lead to a need for social workers providing information and counselling support.  There is an active decision making element to social work jobs, as social workers organise and manage packages of support to enable service users to lead the fullest lives possible.  Coordinating with other agencies is an important part of the job, and recommendations will sometimes have to be made.  Social worker jobs also demand that professionals keen meticulous records of their work, and are sometimes called upon to give evidence in court.

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