What Does a Social Worker Do? An Inside Look at Typical Day

What does a social worker do?

This is a question I have often been asked.

What if you understood what a social work does in their day-to-day practice?

Will it change your perception about the role?

Will it inspire you to pursue a career in social work?

What if knowing what other social workers do can change the way you manage your own practice as a social worker?

In this article, you will find out what social workers do and how they carry out their role in their day-to-day practice.

I will also explore how social workers remain professional through academic and practical learning at a degree level.


What Does a Social Worker Do? An Inside Look at Typical Day

The International Federation of Social Workers defined social work as a profession that promotes social change, problem-solving in human relationships, and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance their well-being.

Therefore, human rights, principles, and social justice are fundamental to social work practice (Banks, 2008).

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what does a social worker do

What is the main role of a social worker?

The profession requires one to gain knowledge from research, supervision, assessment practice, and from teaching others (group work) at a professional level.

Student social workers know that their knowledge and practical skills can also be acquired through engagement with service users, social work professionals, carers, practice educators, university/placement tutors, voluntary organisations, and other professionals.

The wide range of learning is also thought to be facilitated by their learning institutions and the allocated learning practice organisations.

At the end of their learning programme/placements, learners are expected to show leadership skills and how those skills can be put into practice at all times.

When achieved, practitioners follow Practice Capability Framework PCF as guidance to their daily practice (Banks, 2008) and (Parrott, 2006).

What can I expect from a social worker?

It is a profession that requires one to qualify at a degree level.

Social workers are expected to act as professionals by demonstrating social work values and skills.

However, for social workers to understand human problems, they need to gain academic and practical knowledge.

This involves the understanding of the theoretical framework which helps them to inform their decision making.

Social workers are also expected to commit to advocacy.

They also have a duty of care to prompt and to encourage service users to learn new skills, which benefits them to enable their daily living lifestyles independently.

what does a social worker do

What are the duties and responsibilities of a social worker?

What a social worker does impact on the lives of those they support.

Social workers have various roles to play, such as protecting vulnerable individuals and ensuring that they receive essential resources within their communities.

The responsibilities of a social work include the ability to follow the core social work ethics and values by maintaining confidentiality in practice.

These roles require social workers to provide service users with some help and support to manage and to take responsibility for their own lives.

The idea of using the social work code of ethics in practice helps social workers uphold and perform their role effectively.

The limitations on the above are that vulnerable individuals may experience a situation where their social care needs are not met, despite the intervention of multi-agency teams (BASW, 2012).

The social work role also requires practitioners to give help and support to individuals who find themselves in challenging and difficult situations.

Social workers ensure that people’s rights are upheld, and that access to services are established and promoted.

Social workers provide support, protection and counselling to vulnerable people.

We can also see the practice as natural, as situations may become personal for professionals, there is a need for them to maintain balance.

What skills do you need to be a social worker?

For social workers to practice skilfully and effectively, there is a need for them to understand the link between theory and practice.

Also, skills required to be a social worker should be understood.

For example; critical thinking and organisational skills.

This includes respecting service users’ rights (Human Rights Act, 1998) which ensures good practice in the assessment process (Payne, 2005).

Social Work professionals ensure they adhere to academic and practical knowledge on how to manage risk and protection of vulnerable individuals, (Adams, et al., 2010).

Another important skill is a social worker’s ability to build a positive working relationship with service users based on trust,  honesty, reliability and openness.

Maintaining knowledge and practical skills requires continued learning from multi-agency meetings and from private/charity organisations.

what do social workers do

What does a social worker do day to day?

A social worker’s day-to-day role involves;

  • identifying those in need
  • responding to clients or service users in crisis situations
  • using theories to understand why a particular situation has occurred
  • signposting to relevant resources
  • advocacy
  • work within a legislative framework
  • case note updates
  • assessments
  • support planning
  • reviews

Social workers require a set of skills that gives them confidence when conducting assessments or interviews with individuals and their families.

This involves working with groups of various organisations and multi-agency teams, to identify strengths, care needs for individual service users.

It is a social worker’s duty to identify and promote clients/service user rights (Lymbery and Postle, 2007).

What to know before becoming a social worker

  1. The social worker’s daily duties and responsibilities involve interviews/meetings held with individuals, families, groups of various organisations and multi-agency teams.
  2. The outcome allows them to identify, access and to review service users’ circumstances.
  3. They create support plans and also make referrals to services based on identified needs.
  4. Maintaining records and preparing legal reports as evidence in court is also part of their daily tasks.
  5. This means they may have to give or take part in court proceedings as representatives of service users or unaccompanied children.
  6. Some social workers also work with people suffering with mental health problems, drugs and alcohol abusers, learning and physical disabilities and elderly people.
  7. They may also work in other settings such as public sectors and private or voluntary organisations.

what a social worker does

An inside look at a typical day for me as a social worker.

Let’s start with a typical Monday for me as a social worker.

Monday’s always start with my miracle morning routine. I meditate, visualise, read, pray and say my affirmations.

I get my children ready for school (packed lunches).

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, I now work from home.

I log on to my desktop and go through my case notifications.

I assess whether there are any urgent meetings or telephone calls I need to make.

I then plan my day using the electronic calendar and update my paper diary.

We have our Monday team meetings. This is where the manager updates the team and assign cases.

I then start with telephone calls and assessments. I also carry out reviews and update care and support plans where required.

As usual, I have another meeting straight after; and it is my student’s mid way review. But I think I can slot in a quick phone call to a client or service user. 

As a result, I arrive a few minutes late, even though this meeting is virtual, and offer my apologies.

We review the student’s placement progress.

I may have time for a quick working lunch and finally check and respond to my e-mails.

I carry on with typing up my assessments, reviews, arranging virtual risk management meetings and capacity assessments.

I spend the rest of the afternoon with my manager, discussing cases, case allocations and personal development.

It’s 5.30pm and so glad the day is over!


Despite the challenging and complex nature of social work.

The promotion of social inclusion for vulnerable individuals allows freedom and empowerment to regain their lives.

The profession of a social worker includes a commitment to lifelong learning.

Therefore, social workers are always trying to improve their knowledge.

They also work towards becoming the best version of themselves.



what does a social worker do in practice


Adams, A., Lena Dominelli, L. and Payne, M. (2009). Critical Practice in Social Work: (2nd Ed) and Practising Social Work in a Complex World

Adams, R., Dominelli, L. and Payne, M. (2009). Social Work: Themes, Issues and Critical Debates: Basingstoke. Palgrave Macmillan

Banks, s. (2008). The Social Work Value Base: Human Rights and Social Justice in Talk and Action; in Bernard, A., Horner and Wild J., (eds), The Value Base of Social Work and Social Care. Maiden head: Open University press.

Collins (2002). Internet based dictionary of social work: Harper Collins. Glasgow

Cree, V.E. and Davis, A. (2002). Social work voice from the inside: Routledge. Oxon

Horner, N. (2003). What is Social work? Context and Perspectives, Learning Matters:  Exeter

Koprowska, J., (2008). Communications and interpersonal skills in social work: (2nd Ed). Learning Matters. Exeter

Lymbery, M. and Postle, K. (2007) Social work: A companion to learning: SAGE. London

Parrott, L., (2006). Values and Ethics in Social Work Practice: Exeter. Learning Matters

Payne, M. (2005,b). Modern Social Work Theory: (3rd Ed). Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan

Payne, M. (2005). The origins of social work: Palgrave Macmillan. Basingstoke

Ruch G, Turney D. and Ward A. (2010). Relationship Based Social Work: Getting to the heart of Practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Thompson, N (2000) Understanding social work, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

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