British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has issued the following statement on social work and the impact of Covid-19 across adult social care in the UK

1st August 2020

Social workers have a key role in social care. We provide direct therapeutic, relational support to enable people to manage difficulties in crisis and in the longer term. We use specialist knowledge and skills in diverse fields of practice and complex needs. We work with others to coordinate and ensure quality care and support. We are advocates and use our social work and legal expertise to uphold people’s human rights, to enable people to make decisions, and to be safe from abuse and neglect. With others, we advocate and campaign for social care support that is life-enhancing and promotes equality and social justice.

Social workers only achieve their aims through working collaboratively with colleagues, informal carers and citizens using services within systems of social care and health support. 

BASW is profoundly concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on people using and working in social care services during Covid-19. We seek to work with allies in the sector and with governments to strengthen social care and improve the experience of citizens and staff.

BASW fully supports and is solidarity with all colleagues in social care who have provided vital services to people at risk from Covid-19 - whilst often managing huge pressures on  services on top of personal risks and worries.

The hugely disproportionate number of deaths from Covid-19 of people who need care and support – particularly fellow citizens in care homes – and deaths of colleagues has demonstrated that we urgently require:

  • Recognition of the importance of good social care for all who need it
  • Commitment to sufficient resources to provide good social care
  • A better way of ensuring that social care can uphold everyone’s human rights, dignity and wellbeing
  • Fair pay and safe working conditions for all staff within social care

We will continue to work with allies to end the tragedy of avoidable deaths from Covid-19 of people receiving social care and working in social care. This requires:

    • Personal Protective Equipment for all care workers (no charge fee guarantee)
    • Accessible, reliable testing for care workers, carers and people at risk who are Covid-19 asymptomatic and symptomatic
    • 3 weeks repeat testing cycle and discharge from hospital to care home based on the Scottish model (2 negative tests after testing positive prior to hospital discharge)  
    • Clear and consistent infection control advice for residents and staff in all settings 


Our pledges of support

  • We lend our voice to all social care organisations and individuals who are speaking up for dignity and human rights for all in our society.


  • We pay tribute to the selfless dedication of social care workers, who are so often unrecognised and who are not adequately supported or rewarded by our society.


  • We recognise the tragic loss of colleagues and people using services to the virus and recognise the urgent need to understand and address ethnic and other inequalities in death rates.


  • We acknowledge the huge impact on informal carers of all ages who look after family members and friends many of whom have been directly affected by the pandemic. We are concerned that additional caring responsibilities have disproportionately fallen on women.


  • We will continue to work with others to challenge the injustices, human rights issues and  inequalities of Covid-19’s risk and outcomes, and pressure government to ensure consistent, well-funded, local services for the long term.


  • We call on UK governments/devolved administrations to protect people’s rights by refreshing and keeping under review guidance about personalised ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ notifications within Advance Care planning records/equivalent across the nations.


  • We particularly advocate, for people living in care homes and receiving social care support, where the full protection of public health expertise and action should have been ensured by all UK governments since the pandemic started and must now be guaranteed.


  • We will support effective actions that may be forthcoming now, from governments and others. But we must have accountability, learning and determination to ensure the best of social care and support is available for everyone in every part of the UK with sound national and local governance. BASW will do all it can to ensure this happens.


  • Author: Basw UK
  • Date: 08/09/2020