NQSW resource - Outcome statement 1: Professional relationships

In this section:

Professional relationships: Introduction

Create and maintain appropriate relationships based on respect.

Developing and maintaining good relationships is central to improving outcomes for individuals and their families. Your role is to create an environment in which people feel their needs are being heard and understood. This requires integrity, honesty and skill.

Professional relationships: Key practice points

  • The first contact you have with an individual, their carer and family can shape the nature of your whole relationship.
  • SCIE's e-learning resource on Forming and maintaining relationships with service users, carers, professionals and others incorporates the voices of users of services. It is designed to help you understand the personal and professional attributes needed to form and maintain positive working relationships.
  • Whether with individuals, their families, carers or fellow professionals and colleagues, relationships should be based on openness, transparency and empathy.
  • Be aware of the boundaries that need to be in place in your professional relationships, and ensure you operate within them.
  • The General Social Care Council (GSCC) Code of practice for social workers contains everything you need to abide by and be aware of in your practice.
  • Make sure you are familiar with your organisational policies and procedures for sharing and storing information.
  • Multi-agency working is crucial when it comes to meeting the range of needs with which people can present. You need to be aware of any multi-agency protocols and ensure that your professional relationships are conducive to keeping the person at the centre of your work.
  • Understanding cultural and ethnic heritage is essential to being person-centred.
  • Use advocates and interpreters to facilitate your understanding of people’s needs.

Some of the people you work with may have had poor experiences of engaging with services in the past or be anxious about your involvement. You have to remain objective and sensitive to those experiences, knowing that you may have to make unwelcome decisions. Maintaining these relationships in times of conflict is one of your biggest challenges as you balance needs and risks with rights and choices.


We hope you will find this material helpful in your first year as a social worker. However, we recognise that this will not provide you with all the answers. You will need to discuss your practice with your supervisor, raise any ethical dilemmas and be reflective in your work. Use the Portfolio (Word file) document to record your reflection on this outcome statement.