Any activity that contributes to the development of the knowledge, skills and competencies of a social worker can be considered as Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This can be as diverse as completing training courses, reflecting on work practices through supervision, researching new techniques or reading an industry-related article. The learning activity can be regarded as CPD for social workers as long as it enables the social worker to apply this learning in their professional life.
Social workers are particularly well placed to demonstrate engagement in CPD as the nature of their work often means working as part of teams or with colleagues where there are opportunities for learning.
What is CPD in Health and Social Care?
CPD in health and social care typically includes learning activities in relation to working with individuals, families, groups, organisations and communities. These can include attending health and social training courses or social work refresher courses, multidisciplinary meetings, participating in supervisory skills, or even reflecting and improving upon the various challenges faced within the social care industry.
This article provides a simple overview to continuing professional development in social work, the BASW and HCPC CPD requirements that need to be met, as well as highlighting what else can be included as social work professional development.
Am I required to undertake training courses for Social Workers?
All professional social workers should be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Those who wish to remain on the SW register must demonstrate their Continuing Professional Development every 2 years by providing evidence that they have maintained a continuous, up-to-date record of their CPD training courses and any other learning activities relevant to current or future practice.
For HCPC CPD a Social Worker must:
- Maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of their CPD training courses and activities
- Demonstrate that their CPD activities are a mixture of relevant learning
- Seek to ensure that their CPD has contributed to the quality of their practice and service delivery
- Seek to ensure that their CPD benefits the service user
- Upon request, present a written profile (which must be their own work and supported by evidence) explaining how they have met the standards for CPD
A professional social worker must update their HCPC registration every two years as well as sign a declaration to confirm that they have met the CPD requirements. HCPC will select a random sample of 2.5% of social workers to undertake an audit. If selected, the social worker is requested to provide evidence that they have met the HCPC CPD requirements. HCPC would not select social workers within their first two years of practice or a social worker who had recently returned to practice after a break in their registration.
HCPC CPD – What if you are selected?
If you are selected by HCPC you will be asked to fill in a profile and send this back to them before the deadline of your registration renewal date. HCPC will provide you with three months to complete your profile. There is an option for you to request an extension if you are going to struggle to complete this in the requested time.
Once your profile has been sent there will be CPD assessors who look over this and will determine whether or not they feel you have met the HCPC CPD requirements. If a decision is made that your profile only meets some of the standards set they may provide you with some additional time to undertake further social work assessment training.
If you are selected to participate in the CPD audit, there is a range of guidance and information available on the HCPC website, including sample profiles, activity types and video guides. It also provides information about the audit and assessment process.
What is considered as good CPD social work?
The Health and Social Care Council define CPD as ‘the means by which health and social care professionals maintain and improve their knowledge, skills and competence, and develop professional qualities required throughout their professional life’.
CPD is a cyclical process through which you:
- Review your professional development needs
- Plan how to meet these needs
- Implement a plan and take action to meet these needs
- Reflect on this learning and demonstrate how these new skills/learning has affected your work practice
Continuing professional development in social work can encompass all types of learning including workplace supervision, peer group learning, social work refresher courses, placements, training programmes and also higher level qualifications. The different types of learning that count for CPD social work:
- Work-based learning e.g. in-service training, audit of patients
- Professional activity e.g. mentoring, professional body membership
- Formal/educational e.g. attendance at conferences, courses, refresher courses, assessment training
- Self-directed learning e.g. reading journals, internet research
- Other e.g. voluntary work, public service
CPD social work can also be both unplanned or ‘on the job’ learning and can be considered another part of a social worker’s Continuing Professional Development plan. It is suggested that you keep on record all of your training courses materials, reflection work, research and information from any books you have read. Aim to keep note of the training courses dates or any conferences you have attended so that if you are selected for the process you will have all the information already collated.