NQSW resource - Outcome statement 3: Referral

In this section:


Collect, record, analyse key information and take appropriate action.

Referral is where you first become professionally involved with someone. It could be at any point in the care pathway and is recognised as critical to establishing an effective relationship. Your role is to gather and critically analyse information from a range of sources and this will support and inform your decision about how to proceed.

Referral: Key practice points

  • The first contact sets the tone for all future contacts. The Fair access to care services e-learning resource has a section on first contact and some ideas for consideration.
  • Not everyone will be eligible for your service but you should still provide individuals with useful information and advice about other sources of support.
  • For those who are eligible for your service, early intervention is paramount.
  • You will need to balance the needs and wishes of people to promote positive outcomes while managing risks and any safeguarding issues.
  • The situation may be more complex than initial presentation suggests, and you will need to use your skills to investigate and uncover the full picture.
  • Ensure you have sought appropriate permissions and consents, and you have followed your organisational policies, data protection and protocols for the sharing of information.
  • You will need to be familiar with national and local policies, particularly the Department of Health's Prioritising need in the context of Putting people first: a whole system approach to eligibility for social care - guidance on eligibility criteria for adult social care for England 2010.

You need to be transparent and reflect the increased focus on personalisation and prevention. This includes a strong emphasis on prevention, early intervention and support for carers – see the Department of Health's Carers at the heart of 21st century families and communities: a caring system on your side, a life of your own (PDF).


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.