The social worker’s responsibilities



Social work is a profession and an academic discipline concerned with helping, families, groups, and individuals to promote social cohesion, social changes, and development, as well as people empowerment and liberation (Horner, 2017).  It is, therefore, concerned with personal and individual problems but also with social issues, such as domestic problems, unemployment, and poverty. Social care, on the other hand, is the provision of what is necessary to the community, particularly for health and welfare of an individual or a group. It includes any support provided by a social worker or allied professionals apart from medical treatment.

Two major current debates that focus on the social worker’s responsibilities exist. The discussions include interpersonal working and evolving role of the social worker and social care worker. In interpersonal functioning, the knowledge of a social worker needs to be applied in different phases of interaction. Their experience and theory are required in an improvised interpersonal performance to fit the user’s context (Moriarty, Baginsky and Manthorpe, 2015). It promotes the probability that the worker will be accepted as a service oriented person. The role of social worker and that of social care worker have evolved throughout the years. They are expected to abide by the conduct laid out while still offering excellent services to the society.

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the roles of social workers and their responsibilities in the debate of interpersonal working and evolving role of the social worker and social care worker. The discussion is based on both adult and children social workers. It aims at identifying their social roles and responsibilities based on the debates. The essay also evaluates if there exist any tensions and ethical dilemmas in the role they play.

Debate on evolving role of the social worker and social care worker

There is no much difference between the evolving role of social workers and that of social care workers. The origin of social work is traced to mid-19th century (Skehill, 2010). It started as a solution to tackle social problems such as poverty. At the time, Britain was experiencing economic success, which brought pride among the elite citizens (Skehill, 2010). According to them, their success was because of individual success, and those who were poor were to blame themselves for their condition. The formation of Charity Organization Society (COS) in 1869 was seen as the originator of social work. It was founded by Helen Bosanquet and Octavia Hill in London (Skehill, 2010). The organization noted that poverty, begging and crime was of great concern to the society, and they contributed negatively. COS pointed out that the three factors forced the society members to become immoral trying to find revival means (Parker, and Bradley, 2014). COS started a membership program based on values and strict methods, which lead to the creation of social work (Thane, 2009). The organization had its primary emphasis on individual casework. It advocated for the concept of self-help and limited intervention of the government.

Later, other individuals and groups took up the responsibility of contributing to social work. The idea incorporated other actions, such as house settlement (Thane, 2009). An example is the Bethnal Green, which was the first university-sponsored settlement. There were also calls for people to join volunteer’s teams to improve services rendered by social workers.

The 20th century period brought diverse growth into social work (Thane, 2009). Foundations were established to research the cause of poverty. Scientists offered their skills and provided methodologies to overcome the menace. Joseph Rowntree suggested that social workers should treat the cause of social problems instead of treating its symptoms (Thane, 2009). Later, government interventions were employed. They included reforms, such as healthcare, pension for the elderly and unemployment insurance.

These days, the role of social care workers has evolved to incorporate clear responsibilities and expectations (Thane, 2009). They are guided by the law. There are set government policies and frameworks that social care workers and social workers operate within (Thane, 2009). They are tasked with identifying needs and offering appropriate social work intervention. For example, they safeguard vulnerable adults and children from any form of abuse. They are no longer concerned with poverty alone but making sure that the society as a whole is protected. They perform their duties through registered organization and activities.

Ethics and tensions

The British Association of Social Workers is a code of ethics for social workers in the United Kingdom (, 2016). It states the principles of how the members are expected to discharge their ethical obligations and professional conduct. It also safeguards the right of those seeking the services of social work. It follows five fundamental values; Human Dignity and Worth, Social Justice, Service to Humanity, Integrity, and Competence (, 2016). They may be individuals, groups, or families.

There are also set standards of proficiency by the health and care professions council (HCPS) (, 2017). They are standards, which every person who wants to become a social worker or social care worker must meet to become registered. Those who manage to be registered are expected to continue abiding by the set standards to maintain their registration.

Service user/carer perspectives in this debate

Service users or user refers to is someone, who uses the services of the registered professions on the HCPC list, or it affects them (Wilson, Ruch, Lymberry, and Cooper, 2011). In this case, the service users refer to adults and children who seek the services of social workers and social care workers. There is a concern that the relationship between the service users and the social workers needs to be transparent, which is hard to achieve. Those who receive the services blame it on frequent changes of staff. Some clients especially children have their favourite service giver, with whom they create trust and become open. When the service giver is changed, the child will take time to develop it with another person.

The adult clients complain of lack of proper understanding on the side of social workers on how to guide a patient (Wilson et al. 2011). For example, in solving problems for vulnerable adults, the client will like to know how they can overcome the emotional torture without drifting back to the question that led them to the situation. Sometimes a service giver may overlook the problems of the client as pity and therefore not guide them appropriately.

Debate on interpersonal working

Interpersonal working with social workers depends on their professional’s knowledge and skills that they have acquired as a result of practice. Its professional conduct makes it possible for the services offered to be of high quality and unique through coordinated and integrated plans (Trevithick, 2012). They share information with their clients to create a richer assessment of their problems. They also improve services and accountability through creating centrality with the clients. For example, in children welfare, a social worker may suggest that an adult to always talk to their children fast and hear of their problems before rushing to make a judgment. Social workers are professionals who work with other people, and therefore it is essential that they have excellent skills for communication and interaction. It is the same skills that separate professional care from a non-professional care service.  Social workers have several roles and responsibilities for interpersonal working.

Interpersonal working roles and responsibilities

Social workers bring together their skills for the service of the adults and children within the community (Wilson et al. 2011). In addition to the formal education, they are required to have emotional and psychological skills, which are more critical. The skills are internally developed, and therefore they depend on a worker’s willingness to learn and improve (Delany et al., 2017). When dealing with adults and children, social workers are expected to know the sages of human development. The stages cover the stages from birth to death. They are then expected to have skills in the application of the relevant intervention technique. In addition to these skills, a social worker should have the highest level of empathy. It is the ability to understand a patient and help them through their problems while still, they do not fully understand the client’s point of view in a situation.

Social workers are expected to market the unique skills they have to attract clients, families, and teams (Banks, 2014). They are the best-suited professions to do this task. Profession of the modern day is competitive making it vital to continue promoting organizational and individual change. Social workers are expected to work as teams, and they enable other disciplines to become successful in their effort.

Social workers have a responsibility for building trust between them and their clients. They are expected to get information from their patients by observing nonverbal behaviours. When dealing with adults and children, communication can be a hindrance to effective execution of services. The old may not communicate well due to the advanced age while children may be shy. Social workers are expected to have quality listening skills, such as taking important notes as well as how a client reacts when they speak. When getting information about a client, a social worker should know the right questions to ask.

Inter-professional tension and ethics

Social workers are expected to maintain clear boundaries when handling their clients. The purpose for this is to assure professional integrity and responsibility. Social workers meet thousands of vulnerable adults and children throughout the profession (Banks, 2014). They normally receive a lot of heart-breaking stories from the clients that may force them to become sympathetic beyond the required boundaries. Some clients have a history of emotional abuse, domestic violence while another talk of abandonment and rejections (Banks, 2014). Social workers are also humans, and it is possible that they might have faced the same problems in their lives. In case the social worker does not manage their emotions well and bring it to the profession, they may end up hurting the client (Ambrose-Miller and Ashcroft, 2016). They may at times hurt the client if they offer a similar experience that the social worker might have faced.

The profession of social work requires the service giver to build trust, respect, and confidence, which is an important requirement for strategy engagement (Gast, and Patmore, 2012). In handling children welfare, a service giver may be required to remove children from their own homes. They then continue to work with the families of the child to establish stabilization or family reunification.  A worker may find themselves in a situation of befriending the client in an unprofessional way while in the disguise of helping them. Such a relationship can warrant violation of the client/worker relationship.

Reflection on learning

The debate on the role of social work and social care is of importance to the wider understanding of the organization through its concerns to structural disadvantages of marginalized groups and individuals. The evolving history of social work is of importance to those who would desire to appreciate the good work of social workers and social care works. Those who started the profession had the idea of helping the community (Wilson et al. 2011). It is individuals who took the first steps to form Charity Organization Society (COS). We can learn that it takes individual effort for the whole community to benefit. We help fight social problems, such as poverty when we offer others help.

From doing the essay, I learned that the social services help explain the client’s situation and predict their behaviors. Some clients, for example, children may be challenging to have them open up to a social care worker. Unique skills are required that may not be learned from any classroom. For example, the capabilities for empathy are required to understand the client’s situation. However, there is a grim task in making sure that the relationship remains professional. The balancing act maybe heard but still, the professional has no option. Social care service workers listen to other people problems and even witness them, it requires special skills protect the professional conduct.

The field of social work is marked with ethical guidance stipulated in the law. I learned that laws are essential for this professional for they provide a clear framework in any chaotic situation that may arise. The client is protected from any harm that may occur due to services rendered. However, I find the law to be protective of both the client and the service provider. For example, after a service provider is registered, there is continued monitoring of their conduct to protect other clients. Also, the control protects the social care workers in that; unprofessional personnel’s will not easily mess with the services offered.

I learned that I need to offer my services entirely for the sake of the society we live. When we join the profession, our services help the community improve both socially and economically. The government has done excellent work in creating policies to regulate the profession. I hope to be creative and offer services, the same way the early volunteers and pioneers of social work did. I have also learned that the social care profession does not require a person with past unresolved problems. The issues can potentially harm a client in case they have similar issues like the one we faced when growing up.

The content learned will help me understand better the future modules on the same topic. It has provided me with the background knowledge about the evolving nature of social work and social care workers, which are valuable for future lessons.


Overall, the essay has explored the evolving history of the role of social workers and social care workers in administering services to adults and children as well as their interpersonal working. As identified, the nature of the professions has been improving throughout the years incorporating much advancement. Poverty increased begging and crime rate spearheaded the need for the establishment of social workers. Researchers have joined the profession offering services that are result centered.  Also, there is an excellent improvement of the services given, including health and unemployment insurance cover. The interpersonal working covers the professional conduct of the relevant social work stakeholders. When social care professions fully understand each other’s roles and responsibilities the relevant collaborative mechanisms can be realized. The dilemma in interpersonal working arises due to human elements such a worker’s emotions imbalance in their duties. The solution lies in to maintain the professional conduct. Communication is also essential in interpersonal working. It helps establish the common ground for addressing the problems encountered.

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