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Friday, 18 November 2016

Guidance: Forensic mental health social work - capabilities framework (DH)

Written by The Editorial Team

Social work is characterised by its ability to see the individual within the context of their family, their community and the wider society. Legal knowledge and an ability to understand how and when to intervene are both necessary and appropriate in forensic settings.  This makes social work an essential element in the care and rehabilitation of people supported within those settings.

What this means in practice is that forensic social workers understand and engage with individual service users/patients, and also with their families and the communities from which
service users have come.  They support them through their journeys between different levels of security, and are knowledgeable about the community situations to which they will return. Like
other social workers, their understanding of human rights, and other legal frameworks, are key to the support they offer. Professional isolation is a key concern for many forensic social
workers, who are often located within health professional dominated environments. In this context, it is vital that practitioners are able, and supported, to keep abreast of strategic changes impacting on social work and community care services generally and maintain their distinctive professional voice within the context in which they are working.
Forensic Social workers are involved in gatekeeping and ensuring that service users are being managed at the least restrictive level of security. They act as core members of multi-disciplinary
teams working with detained patients who have committed serious sexual or violent offences, and they bring a social and family perspective to inpatient services.

The capabilities framework sets out progression and developments for forensic mental health social workers and is designed to build upon the generic requirements set out in the professional capabilities framework (PCF) for social workers.