Skip to main content

Our Director of Development and Innovation, Phillip Gillespie, reflects on the important role of social work to mark World Social Work Day.

In 1961 Carl Rodgers the psychologist stated that empathy, congruence and positive self-regard were central to the social worker or counsellor in helping people reflect and evaluate their experiences and achieve positive growth. This approach remains relevant for social workers in 2019 and great leadership has empathy and compassion at its core.

Social workers play an integral role in supporting and protecting the most vulnerable in our society and social workers continue to be enablers of change, assessing risk and bringing agencies together. They deliver a range of interventions that result in positive change to families and communities at points of crisis that provide safety and stability to families and gives people control of their lives.

Relationships and communities

Social work practice and intervention requires the management of complex human relationships and dynamic community systems. Social work interventions are based on human relationships and delivered within a professional framework of social work standards and the SSSC Codes of Practice that challenge social workers to continually improve their practice and empower individual and communities they work with to understand and exercise their rights.

Codes and Standards

The importance of positive human relationships empathy and compassionate care is central to the SSSC Codes of Practice and the national Health and Social Care Standards. The SSSC Codes, post registration training and learning (PRTL) and improvement using the Standards, promote continuous learning and challenge social workers to innovate and continually improve their learning and practice in how they support and protect the individuals and families they work with.

The SSSC Codes and the Standards embed human rights in the provision, regulation and planning of care and improving practice in the workforce. They promote delivery of high quality, compassionate, person-centred, safe and effective care with a focus on outcomes and the experience of the individual.

They also describe the values, skills and knowledge the public should expect from the workforce when using care services in Scotland. The assessment of quality is not determined by organisations achieving minimum standards, but that people using services have positive experiences and are supported by a skilled compassionate workforce to achieve their personal outcomes.

Integration and children’s services

Positive human relationships and the delivery of compassionate care has a critical role in the integration of health and social services and the planning and delivery of integrated children’s services. The Codes and Standards provide an integrated framework for the delivery of health and social care outcomes for everyone and to make sure that our basic entitlement to human rights are met. They are relevant to those involved in care delivery and to those responsible for the planning and commissioning of health, care and social work services.


The is so much potential within the new Health and Social Care Standards and the alignment of the SSSC Codes of Practice in putting human relationships, empathy and compassionate care at the centre of delivering excellent care services that provide the public with confidence and reassurance.