Return to Social Work | What you need to know

Do you want to return to Social Work? Are you finding the process confusing with little or no support available?
Below you will find the relevant guidance on what is required and the process you need to follow in getting re-registered with the HCPC. For clarification purposes, we have also provided links to the HCPC website for further information and have been in active discussions with them so as the information presented below is accurate.

Time-frame/requirements for returners

In order to return to practice, the first step is to identify how long you have been out of practice. Once identified, you will need to complete and meet the following requirements, depending on how long they have been out of practice:

0 – 2 years 

No requirements.

2 – 5 years

30 days of updating their skills and knowledge.

5 years & over

60 days of updating their skills and knowledge.

Updating skills and knowledge

To put it simply, in order for you to return to Social Work, the HCPC require that you complete a readmissions form which details that you have updated your skills and knowledge in three ways:

  • Supervised practice
  • Formal study
  • Private study

Supervised practice

‘Supervised practice’ is practising under the supervision of a registered professional. During a period of supervised practice, you may have the option of being employed as an assistant in your profession. However, employment is not essential (includes relevant voluntary work).

In order to complete a period of supervised practice, you will need to identify a supervisor. Your supervisor must:
• be HCPC Registered;
• have been in regulated practice for at least the previous three years; and
• not subject to any fitness to practise proceedings or orders, (i.e. they must not be cautioned, or subject to ‘conditions of practice’).

Note: The registered professional (HCPC registered Social Worker) does not need to be based at the placement setting on a full-time basis. This can be completed in an off-site role/capacity – see it like an off-site Practice Educator role.

However, it is expected that the registered professional will assist in your development and will determine how regularly you are required to meet and what areas of work (skills and knowledge) you need to develop.

Formal study

‘Formal study’ is a period of structured study which is provided by a person or organisation. This can include distance learning or e-learning, or any other type of course or programme that is relevant to your practice.

Types of formal study that you might choose to take could include:
• ‘return to practice’ programmes run by educational institutions or other bodies;
• relevant ‘continuing professional development’ courses;
• relevant modules or elements currently included in programmes run by educational institutions; or
• programmes offered by professional bodies.
Note: The HCPC do not approve return to practice courses, which is different to return to practice programmes run by educational institutions etc.

Private study

‘Private study’ is a period of study which you structure yourself. If you choose to use private study as part of your updating, you could use resources including:
• websites;
• library books; and
• Journals

How many days should I do each section for?

There is no one formula in terms of establishing how many days you are required to demonstrate supervised practice, formal study or private study. The only requirement is that any private study makes up a maximum of half the period.
For example: you could choose 50% private study, 25% formal study and 25% supervised practice. As long as it makes up the total number of days you are required to demonstrate.
Once completed, the registered professional will be required to sign off the Returners to Practice application which is completed the the returning Social Worker. This is then processed by the HCPC and (once passed) full Social Work Registration status is achieved.

Further information – download: 

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