TCSWGood practice advice for social workers working with people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions to help improve standards following the Winterbourne View case has been published.

The guidance, published by The College of Social Work (TCSW), was drawn up in collaboration service users, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), trade union UNISON and learning disability charity Mencap. 

It aims to address the factors that need to be considered when social workers work with people with learning disabilities whose behaviour is challenging and distressing, and to promote high standards of professional practice.

The guidance highlights the importance of the human rights of the service user and the need to not only prevent harm but also promote quality of life. It also emphasises the importance of ‘whistle-blowing’ on instances of harmful practice and liaising with expert colleagues to seek further advice on cases where appropriate. 

Bernard Walker, chair of TCSW’s Adults Faculty, said: “The Winterbourne View case highlighted the need for specific guidance on how social workers can work effectively with this particular group of service users. Social workers play a crucial role in ensuring that vulnerable people in society are protected, and are uniquely trained to manage complex cases.

“We hope that this guidance will prove to be a useful resource for social workers.”