Good practice in social care for refugees and asylum seekers

Pointers for good practice: Principles for practice

From the research evidence, six principles to drive good practice in social care for asylum seekers and refugees have been identified. These are consistent with values and principles underpinning good practice in social care more broadly and a rights-based approach to meeting social care needs.

1. A humane, person-centred, rights-based and solution-focused response to the social care needs of asylum seekers and refugees
Asylum seekers and refugees should be seen as individuals first and foremost; with the same rights as UK nationals to be listened to and to have their needs identified and appropriately responded to, with understanding both of their current situation and of their future aspirations. In the case of children and young people this means viewing the child as a child first, acting in their best interests and taking account of their wishes and feelings. This will require an approach that is flexible, solution-focused and innovative in order to meet the complexity and diversity of needs.

2. Respect for cultural identity and experiences of migration
Asylum seekers and refugees are not a homogenous group; they come from a wide range of countries, in different circumstances, and have diverse abilities and skills. Providing good quality social care hinges on positive regard for cultural identity, the diverse experiences of migration, and the capacity of staff to translate this principle into practical action.

3. Non-discrimination and promotion of equality
To be treated positively, with regard to the possibility of discrimination, and to receive the same treatment as British citizens. This means that the role of social care services is to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees are properly supported and their social care needs met. It implies working within an equality and diversity framework and putting measures in place to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees receive a fair and just response.

4. Decision-making that is timely and transparent and involves people, or their advocates, as fully as possible, in the process
Unnecessary delays in decisions about the provision of social care are avoided and the process is transparent with a demonstrable commitment to involving asylum seekers and refugees and their advocates in the process. A clear process that details assessment, eligibility criteria, involvement of advocates and processes for appeal should be clearly laid out.

5. Promotion of social inclusion and independence
Working to promote inclusion and support the autonomy of asylum seekers and refugees within the UK or through the process of returning home is central to the task of social care. It implies working with different scenarios (staying in the UK/returning home) to plan for the future and facilitating self-organisation. It also means mainstreaming the needs of asylum seekers and refugees within organisational agendas.

6. A holistic approach
Promoting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees is highly unlikely to be achieved by one organisation alone. The complexity of individual circumstances and histories demands robust and well developed partnership working across organisational boundaries at both strategic and operational levels.