Social work is a profession that requires knowledge, skills and special training to be able to practice professionally. Due to this, social workers are expected to meet certain requirements in order to practice as professional social workers. One of the requirements is being fit to practice which determines whether or not social workers can enter and practice safely without any obstructions(Social Work England, 2020b, pg 4). If a person is deemed incapable of being fit to practice, it can raise concerns about their ability to practice safely and can lead to the reputation of social workers being tarnished. This is why it is important for social workers to be fit to practice and meet the requirements; this includes having the knowledge, skills, values and health.
Knowledge is an important requirement expected of all social workers as ‘knowledge is central to effective social work practice’ (Trevithick, 2012, pg 25). Knowledge is key in allowing social workers to be able to carry out their work. Relevant knowledge is needed on topics such as the law, social policy and case studies; this allows for social workers to carry out their work with confidence as this can reduce the risk of making mistakes.
Having the necessary skills is vital to be able to practice as a professional social worker as communication, engaging with service users and organisations as well as being able to carry out risk assessments are crucial to the job. Not having experience of these qualities or unable to do them can hinder the career of a social worker. Communication is highly important as being able to engage with colleagues, service users and organisations allows for social workers to work in partnership and allows them to cater to individual needs(SWE, 2019, Professional Standards, pg 3: r 3.1). Communication includes listening as this is also vital; social workers need to be able to pay attention to those around them and give them the support that is required.
Health, be it physical or mental, are both highly important within the fit to practice requirements. Physically, social workers need to be able to keep up with visits and with their workload, so if their physical health is weak it can have a negative impact and lead to burnout; this burnout can result in individuals being absent from work (Kim and Stoner, 2008). Mental health is just as important as often the workload can be stressful and lead to low mental health; this is why it is encouraged for social workers to take breaks so it does not lead to situations that become uncontrollable.
The Code of Conduct is a set of rules which all social workers are expected to abide by; this ties in with the values that social workers need in order to become a professional.
Knowing and being able to implement legislation and policy is also a requirement within social work. This allows social workers to carry out their work to their best ability. The Equality Act 2010 is legislation which upholds the policy of preventing discrimination. Carr and Goosey(2019, pg 98-100) explain that there are protected characteristics such as age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation which are protected under the Equality Act.
Social workers are not allowed to let their personal beliefs and views obstruct their professional views.