A message from the Principal Social Worker Network:

COVID-19 Ethical Response and Best Practice Guide for Children and Families Services

As part of the PSW’s practice leadership role and drawing on the work of the PCFSW research and practice development project, this guidance has been developed by the Principal Children and Families Social Worker (PCFSW) Network to stimulate ethical thinking and reflection about the ethical response to current COVID-19 pandemic and to support practitioners in applying social work values and principles and Social Work England’s practice standards in their everyday practice, decisions and actions.
Read the guidance.

Dedicated social work COVID-19 updates webpage

We’ve asked Skills for Care to set up a dedicated social work COVID-19 updates page which is for the social work workforce as a whole and there is also a section which contains information specific to PSWs in child and family. The webpage is being updated regularly so please use it.


Nuffield Family Justice Observatory bulletin

During this crisis the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory will be providing regular bulletins with data analysis and evidence to help inform immediate and longer-term decision making in the family justice system. They recognise that all professionals are having to make rapid decisions about the support that can be provided to children and families during this period. The crisis will also have long term implications for children, families and services.

The first Nuffield FJO bulletin has news about their new initiative to help professionals to maintain safe contact arrangements for children and families during the crisis. It also has data about kinship carers and special guardians.

To receive future bulletins subscribe here or visit the COVID-19 information on their website.

Free support for anyone with a learning disability

In response to the recent escalation of our Government’s coronavirus strategy and the challenging months ahead, a free version of AutonoMe is being offered to any person with a learning disability in the UK.

AutonoMe will provide, through their app, free access to their online library of instructional videos and reminders to anyone with learning disabilities. All of the videos demonstrate skills for independent living and fall into 4 categories; cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene, safety and security including how to properly wash your hands. They’re available 24/7 and work across iOS and Android smart devices.

Access to AutonoMe can support local authorities through the coronavirus pandemic by:

  • reducing the need for support workers to have close contact
  • enabling support workers to focus on those who most need support
  • provide consistency at a time when support teams may be unfamiliar.

The process for accessing AutonoMe for free is as follows:

  1. Go to their website and complete a short referral form
  2. They will contact you and arrange a time for training and setup
  3. They will provide remote training for support workers and the person to install and use the app as well as training for support workers in how best to support someone to start using AutonoMe
  4. They will be available for support on support@autono.me.uk

They are offering access to AutonoMe instructional videos to anyone in the UK with learning disabilities; please do pass on this information to any relevant partners or teams.


Request for help from the network

Tracey Coffey, Operational Director Children and Families at Halton Borough Council is reviewing their workforce support and strategy. They currently have the PSW role as part of an existing senior manager role but as part of the review, her view has moved to establishing a dedicated PSW post to lead on all areas of social work development.

Where local authorities have a dedicated full-time equivalent role, would anyone be willing to share their job descriptions/structures, so Tracey can do some benchmarking?

If so, please email tracey.coffey@halton.gov.uk

Update on our CPD programme

All workshops that were due to take place between now and the end of May have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. We will review the rest of the programme on a regular basis and keep you updated.


Resources for practitioners from Community Care Inform

This page provides a handy directory of guidance and resources to help with practice at this time. Areas covered include the impact on looked-after children, operation of the Family Court, disabled children, mental health and domestic abuse. There are also tips for professionals and carers for talking to children about coronavirus, and looking after your own wellbeing.

Visit the Community Care Inform website.

Resources for practitioners from Research in Practice

During the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our aim is to continue to provide Partners with a range of coordinated online learning activities. This includes publications, webinars, online resources, blogs and more to support professional development during these challenging and uncertain times.

Visit the Research in Practice website.

Using digital technology safely to improve practice

In collaboration with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has developed a digital practice framework and resources for social workers, employers and educators. The new resources will help social workers to know how and when to use digital technology safely to improve practice. Faced with social distancing measures, SCIE also details how social workers can utilise digital technology to continue conducting relationship-based practice from a distance.

Social Work Supervision during the Coronavirus Pandemic

In the light of the current social distancing rules it may not be possible for social workers and social work staff to have face-to-face supervision. However, we are all working in circumstances that have never before been experienced and are reacting to different challenges daily so there is a need to maintain regular supervision for the benefit of practice and wellbeing.

Where possible if supervision can still be done face to face whilst following the Government’s social distancing guidelines these can continue.  Where this isn’t possible conducting supervision via telephone or video call (through Microsoft Teams) is possible, whilst adhering to all appropriate professional and ethical frameworks.

Things to consider before supervision

First speak to your supervisee and make the arrangements for the supervision. Things to consider:

  • Do they have a preference for telephone or video calling? You may want to reassure your staff that video/audio conversations over Microsoft Teams are entirely confidential and are not recorded.
  • Book the time into your diaries.
  • If your staff member is working for home: bear in mind that not everyone has the same home environment. It may be difficult for some staff to find a place where they can be alone and uninterrupted for long periods of time.
  • When talking about cases it is important that details remain confidential. It is vital that third parties are not able to overhear any part of any discussions regarding vulnerable children or adults.
  • You will need to make these arrangements in advance. Employees may have their own ideas on how to manage their own situation.
  • If you are working from home and the supervisee is in their workplace it may be easier for them to find a quiet space than you; try as best you can to set up a time when you will be able to fully concentrate on conducting supervision.
  • Supervision templates still need to be completed; remind staff to complete the preparation and template that they usually do in advance of supervision.
  • Complete the preparation that you would do normally prior to supervision.

During supervision

Welfare and Wellbeing

The current Government guidelines present challenges to us all and the wellbeing of our staff is of utmost importance. Staff will be adjusting to working in different ways or environments and juggling their own family circumstances and work priorities. Paying particular importance to the wellbeing of staff should be the starting point of supervision.

After supervision

  • Ensure all documentation is completed and stored in the appropriate places.
  • Ask your staff member to reflect on how effective they found the supervision in the different format and see if there is anything that you can change for the next supervision.


For more information or help please email workforce.developmentteam@knowsley.gov.uk

Community Care podcast

This episode is on contextual safeguarding. The podcast talks about what the approach entails, what it looks like in practice, and also discuss how work with young people been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Discussing these questions are Dr Carlene Firmin who developed the contextual safeguarding framework and leads the contextual safeguarding and peer-on-peer abuse research programmes at the University of Bedfordshire, and Samantha Roper, team manager for the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) at Knowsley Council.

Listen to "Contextual safeguarding" on Spreaker.