Social workers to be supported to develop digital capabilities

03 June 2019

Health Education England (HEE) is delighted to commission the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) – together with its partners the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the University of Central Lancashire – to improve social workers’ digital skills.

The project forms part of the wider Building a Digitally Ready Workforce (BDRW) programme, commissioned by NHS England and NHS Digital for the health and care sector. This programme is led by HEE and has integrated social care from its inception. The mission is to help everyone in the health and care sector in England, become comfortable enough with digital tools so that they can contribute to that transformation and deliver the outcomes of their role quicker, easier, safer and at a higher level of quality.

This new project is a great opportunity for social workers to engage with and influence the current health and care digital agendas.

It will bring together a number of experts including experts by experience to develop a suite of resources, including: a briefing for practitioners, a set of digital capabilities, ethical guidance, e-learning resources, a network of digital champions for the sector and a profile-raising campaign.

The work – which will cover both children’s and adults’ social workers in England - will be guided by an expert Advisory Group and codesigned with social workers, educators and people who use services. The literature review to inform the project is already underway and is focused on: effective use of data, digital technology and social networks.

This project builds on the Building a Digitally Ready Workforce project for Health and Social care.

Mark Nicholas, Chief Social Worker at NHS Digital said:

We want social workers to be confident using digital technology and data to support their increasingly complex role. This project will ensure we know how best to do this and provide a valuable resource for the profession.

Speaking about this collaboration, James Freed Chief Information Officer and the Building a Digitally Ready Workforce Programme Director at Health Education said:

SCIE and BASW bring the perfect combination of evidence-based approaches, sector knowledge, and a track record of successfully engaging with social workers. We look forward to working with them alongside the Faculty of Clinical Informatics to enable social workers to take full advantage of the opportunities that digital skills and knowledge can offer them.

Tony Hunter, SCIE's chief executive, said:

While social work will always be about relationships, we live and work in a digital age. Big data, new technology and social networks bring opportunities and risks. Social workers – and those who lead and manage them – need to be able to spot the difference, and the knowledge and confidence to use digital tools and services to improve their practice. As a qualified social worker, I am delighted that SCIE will be working on the important project.

Dr Ruth Allen, BASW chief executive said:

Digital knowledge and skills are essential to current and future social work. They are not an optional add-on but are a core part of responding to people’s lives and are relevant across our sector. BASW is particularly keen to ensure that the digital capabilities we develop map closely with existing frameworks particularly the Professional Capabilities Framework and the Knowledge and Skills Statements for social work, as well as Social Work England’s emerging regulatory framework.

The project is due to run until March 2020.

Press Contact

Mobile: 07739 458 192