Accessibility statement

Service user and carer expectations of social workers and students on placement

Below is a selection of perspectives from service users and carers, sharing their advice to social workers and students on social work placements, about their expectations and how they would like to be treated.

Expectations of a social worker


  • a sound grasp of the agency role
  • be open and honest what they/the agency can achieve
  • a developing awareness of impairment
  • a developed understanding of confidentiality

Personality and skills

  • approachability 
  • the ability to listen, empathise, understand the issue/problems and take appropriate action
  • a willingness to enlarge their knowledge of different cultures/religions
  • a non-judgemental approach
  • an ability to gain the trust and confidence of service users and carers in developing a respectful relationship
  • an appropriate dress sense
  • the skill to value service users and carers
  • developed respectful listening skills


  • the ability to ‘follow-through’ commitments and agreed actions
  • an ability to recognise a lack of knowledge and seek information from other sources
  • an ability to engage with service users in meeting their needs
  • a polite, non-oppressive and professional manner
  • a willingness to devote enough time to an interview as defined by the service user i.e. determining the service user agenda in partnership
  • have the ability to be available and accessible
  • the politeness to arrive on time for appointments
  • a genuine interest in the service users and carers concerns
  • an ability to challenge appropriately and positively
  • the ability to be open and honest and not falsely raise expectations

Developing your approach

When asked 'How can social workers empower service users?' the following suggestions were made. This may give you an insight into how your approach when working with service users could be developed.

  • Listen to me
  • Not keeping people waiting
  • Never be patronising
  • Never use be-littling comments
  • Help the service user to feel valued
  • Provide continuity of care
  • Do not use jargon
  • Not allowing long and embarrassing silences in sessions
  • Not imposing own beliefs on a client
  • Never minimising a client’s feelings
  • Use positive body language
  • Use appropriate empathy
  • Attend to equal opportunity issues
  • Keeping confidences
  • Creating trust
  • Provide choices
  • Recognise harmful differences in the personalities of the service user/carer and social worker
  • Handling sessions appropriately by negotiating the session rules
  • Never use destructive labelling
  • Have a real say in creating care plans and exploring solutions
  • Create 'hope'
  • Acknowledge that I have a right to 'self-determination'