Social work is a modern profession, but is task of rendering help is as old as the human race itself. Social workers are professional, qualified people who strive for the general well-being of people from every walk of life.
It is their task to analyse the deep-rooted causes of social problems, such as poverty, unemployment, illness, antisocial behaviour and other social inadequacies, and to help those concerned to overcome them. Specialised knowledge and an understanding of people are therefore essential in the job.
Their services are aimed at the individual, group, family, organisation, or community context and their environment, as well as at the interaction between people and their environment. These are the challenges facing the social workers on a day-to-day basis. Social workers try to help improve people’s behaviour or circumstances to enable them to once again play a meaningful role within their families, communities and society.
The following fields of service can be differentiated within the profession:
As with all professions, social workers are involved in research and administration. Tasks in this regard are aimed at the identification of problems and needs; the exploration of the most effective way of preventing such problems and resolving that need, and the maintenance and development of social work services.
In addition to interviewing clients at the office, at their homes and contacting other significant persons in their social environments, social workers are also responsible for large amounts of office work. This includes the preparation of reports on clients for welfare organisations, schools and courts of law.
Three primary methods are used by social workers in their professional work, namely: casework, group work and community work. These three methods are usually complementary to each other.
Case work: Case workers develop one-to-one relationships with individuals, visiting them to give personal assistance and encouragement.
Group work: Group workers organise group activities for people sharing similar problems, interests and needs; for example the organisation of recreational activities for the elderly.
Community work: These social workers identify needs in the community and helps to plan and develop health, housing, rehabilitation and other welfare services.
Social workers can be appointed by their employers to take charge in the training of social auxiliary workers. They have to be able to train pupils theoretically as well as practically and to integrate theory and practice.