Careers in adults' social work

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We are looking for experienced Adults’ Social Workers who are passionate about making a difference.

About us

Adults' Services

Adults' Services

At West Sussex County Council we are working to transform Adults’ Services by embracing a strengths-based approach and working towards a model that supports local communities and economies.

Our focus is on prevention and reablement, supporting family and friend carers, and helping people maintain their independence and autonomy. Our approach will move away from traditional types of support, towards solutions that work with people to keep them independent for longer and living in their own home and community.

It is important that people have a life, not just a service, and that they value the support they receive. We want to promote wellbeing and ensure people are safe, and we will work alongside our partners to achieve this.

Our social workers change lives. It’s a challenging job and we recognise that to achieve excellent outcomes for our residents, our staff need to feel supported and have opportunities to develop.

We work hard to ensure our adults’ social workers have what they need to be the best they can be and make the most of their experience with us. We have a strong professional support network, from experienced leadership to supportive teams and team managers, providing our workforce with what they need to deliver the best possible outcomes for the adults who need them.

We work to ensure there is the right balance between support and challenge. We have invested in professional development and have clear career progression pathways. We value our staff and encourage them to develop their career with us, from students and newly qualified social workers through to senior and experienced managers.

West Sussex

West Sussex

West Sussex is a beautiful county located on the south coast of England. Within easy reach of sandy beaches and rolling hills, West Sussex also boasts a perfect balance of cosmopolitan towns, such as Crawley and Horsham, and flourishing market towns like Chichester.

West Sussex has so much to offer and is a wonderful place to live, work and play.

If you want to find further information about one of the UK’s most diverse counties, visit Experience West Sussex.

Meet our teams

Community teams

Community teams

Community teams:

  • undertake assessment of need under the Care Act 2014
  • deal with interventions and begin planning for adults with eligible social care needs
  • carry out s.42 safeguarding enquiries
  • undertake assessment of mental capacity
  • make best interest assessments
  • work in partnership with partner agencies, including health, police and housing
  • undertake joint work with occupational therapists in our Independent Living Service.




  • has a focus on prevention
  • responds to enquiries offering high quality information and advice
  • signposts to universal services
  • works with partner agencies to identify needs within initial assessment
  • identifies safeguarding concerns
  • identifies the need for community equipment and assistive technology.



Hospital teams

Hospital teams

Hospital teams:

  • undertake assessment of need under the Care Act 2014
  • work in partnership with Health to prevent hospital admission
  • work in partnership with Health to enable timely and safe discharge from hospital
  • identify safeguarding concerns and undertake s.42 enquiries where appropriate
  • work in partnership with reablement and discharge services to achieve better outcomes for people in hospital.

Lifelong Services teams

Lifelong Services teams

Lifelong Services teams:

  • bring together a number of adult and children teams under one service to provide better outcomes for children, young people and adults with lifelong disabilities (learning, physical disability or autism acquired before age 25)
  • provide a consistent approach to working in partnership with people with lifelong disabilities, autism and their families
  • make the best use of community resources to provide a more joined up and coherent experience, enabling individuals to live a good life, as defined by them.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards teams

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards teams

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards teams:

  • carry out best interest assessments in relation to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)
  • provide specialist advice and support in relation to the Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • support Court of Protection applications where appropriate
  • work in partnership with all other Adults’ Services teams to promote best practice in relation to DoLS and Mental Capacity Act.

Mental Health teams

Mental Health teams

Mental Health teams:

  • include social workers, community psychiatric nurses, occupational therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists
  • provide a specialist service to people with complex mental health needs
  • undertake assessment of need under the Care Act 2014
  • undertake assessments under the Mental Health act 1983 within our Approved Mental Health Professional Service
  • identify safeguarding concerns and progresses s.42 enquiries.

Safeguarding Enquiries Team

Safeguarding Enquiries Team

Safeguarding Enquiries Team:

  • carry out section 42 safeguarding enquiries and manage large scale organisational safeguarding
  • undertake assessment of mental capacity
  • work in partnership with partner agencies, including CQC, health, police, contracts and service providers
  • carry out risk assessments
  • ensure safeguarding action plans are robust.

Safeguarding Hub

Safeguarding Hub

Safeguarding Hub:

  • act as single point of contact for all safeguarding adults’ referrals
  • carry out the initial triaging and decision making for safeguarding referrals
  • carry out risk assessments
  • agree and initiate initial safeguarding plans
  • work in partnership with other agencies including police, service providers, housing etc. in relation to managing risk
  • provide support and expertise to Adults’ Services and partner agencies in relation to statutory safeguarding duties and processes.

Prevention and Assessment teams

Prevention and Assessment teams

Prevention and Assessment teams:

  • provide early intervention in order to prevent, reduce or delay needs arising
  • provide high quality information and advice
  • signpost to community-based preventative services
  • include social workers and workers from health and voluntary sector.

Specialist Older People’s Mental Health teams

Specialist Older People’s Mental Health teams

Specialist Older People’s Mental Health teams:

  • provide specialist service for people over 65 with complex mental health needs
  • undertake assessments under Care Act 2014
  • undertake assessments of mental capacity and complex, best-interest assessments, and where appropriate are involved in decision making
  • work in partnership with other Adults’ Services teams and provide specialist support.

Why work for us

Becoming a social worker

Becoming a social worker

The title of 'social worker’ is protected in law for use by those who have qualified and are currently registered with Social Work England (SWE).

Qualification is at degree and Masters level and is a generic qualification that gives grounding in work with adults, children and families. The social work degree may be a two or three year course depending on your previous academic qualifications. It will include two practice placements totalling 170 days and 30 practice skills days over the course.

You will develop your learning and practice according to the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) for social workers at the end of your first and second placement opportunities. You will need to demonstrate that your practice meets these capability standards and this will be assessed throughout the placements.

The PCF can be found on the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) website and will give the descriptors at each level of your training and beyond.

After successful completion of the degree/Masters, you will be required to complete the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE), demonstrating that you can meet the requirements of the Knowledge and Skills Statement and the PCF. This needs to be successfully completed in order to continue working as a social worker with West Sussex County Council.

Post-qualifying training is available at universities to support professionals in gaining further skills through academic study. As a social worker, you will be expected to engage in a range of learning and development activities through your career that support and improve your practice and outcomes for service users. These could include:

  • self-study
  • attending conferences
  • training to develop specialist knowledge and skill
  • academic study
  • reading and research.

All social workers are expected to engage in Continuing Professional Development activity on an ongoing basis in order to be able to keep their registration with Social Work England. You will now refer to and map your professional practice, skills and knowledge against the PCF held by the British Association of Social Workers. This gives detail of the nine domains of professional practice that are present throughout every level of social work from pre-qualifying to advanced practice.



Our progression pathways allow individual social workers to choose their own career path, so they can make the most of their experience while working in West Sussex.

All our social workers are provided with the opportunity to progress from qualified social worker to senior social worker through a portfolio route, and are provided with a framework of support, workshops and assessment in order to achieve this.

We value our social work staff and have a track record of supporting further progression to senior practitioner and management roles, providing a management development programme to support this.

The learning and development offer for social workers includes a comprehensive programme of internal and external opportunities. Tracy Davis, Principal Social Worker for Adults’ Services says, “We want West Sussex to support social workers to reach their full potential, to encourage them to progress and develop. If social workers feel supported and have the right level of development for them, then their experience of working in West Sussex is more likely to be both rewarding and fulfilling.”

We also support practitioners to qualify as approved mental health professionals, best interest assessors or practice educators, all of which are accredited and count towards Post Graduate qualification. This means that there is the opportunity to develop within both specialist and non-specialist routes.

We currently invest in our existing Assistant Care Manager workforce by offering a number of Social Work Degree Apprenticeships every year in partnership with local Universities. This is an excellent opportunity to train as a social worker whilst working for West Sussex County Council.


Pay and benefits

Pay and benefits

Adults’ social worker pay and benefits include:

  • annual leave of up to 29 days, plus the ability to buy additional annual leave
  • an excellent local government pension scheme
  • flexible and mobile working opportunities supported by our technology
  • access to our high-quality essential training and continuous professional development opportunities which can be tailored to your needs
  • Social Work England fees paid for all social workers up to Grade 12
  • fantastic support for you and your family, including Tax-Free Childcare scheme, career breaks and access to health and financial wellbeing schemes and benefits
  • a range of commuting and business travel discounts and initiatives.

Further information can be found on our Rewards and benefits page.

Staff stories

Keely Fry

Keely Fry

We spoke with Keely, a senior social work practitioner (now currently acting Team Manager in Worthing), about what she loves about working at West Sussex County Council.

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Gary Mathews

Gary Mathews

Senior social worker in the Older People’s Mental Health Team, Gary Mathews was interviewed by Community Care about his experience of working at West Sussex County Council. 

One thing came shining through - teamwork. Working together and providing a strong support network is key to our social care teams. 

Read the full story on the Community Care website

Greg Slay

Greg Slay

A day in the life of an Approved Mental Health Professional

My name is Greg Slay. I work for West Sussex County Council’s Out of Hours Emergency Service as an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP). I initially trained in the role in 1989/90 and have been reapproved to act in the role at five yearly intervals, most recently in November 2019. I am a social worker by professional background, and I am registered with Social Work England.

I was on-call on a recent bank holiday. My shift was from 9.00am-5.00pm, although there is always the possibility it will overrun as each piece of work needs to be fully completed and written up. It can sometimes be the case that there are no pieces of work to do. I like to have a fallback activity for such occasions.

On this one, I had been provided with a copy of David Emery’s ‘Full Metal Cardigan’ to read. This, I was told, was an interesting memoir about working as an AMHP. I wanted to read it and compare it with my own experiences. However, no sooner had the shift got underway, I was asked by the Lead AMHP coordinating the shift’s activities that day to set up a Mental Health Act Assessment at a local mental health hospital. This was to assess a 23-year old female for a Section 3 (S.3) admission under the Act.

A S.3 is a compulsory admission for treatment, meaning nursing care and observation, medication, and psychological therapy (where possible and available). It also includes work to rebuild a person’s strengths and capabilities to be able to live independently with their mental health issues outside of hospital.

You have to have a really serious mental health issue to get into and stay in a mental health hospital in the first place. Most people with mental health issues are supported by their GP practice or through wellbeing services in the community.

The woman I went to assess is a quadriplegic as a result of cerebral palsy (without any associated learning disability), and not because she had survived trying to kill herself by jumping off the top floor of a multi-story car park. However, she had recently tried to kill herself on the ward by choking on anti-bacterial wet wipes that she had stuffed into her mouth.

She had been ‘hearing voices’ in her head instructing her to kill herself. She didn’t want to be in hospital any longer (she had in fact been there for several weeks already), but she was not well enough to be allowed outside of hospital at the moment, as the staff at the proposed placement for her could not guarantee her safety.

I arranged to interview her, accompanied by two psychiatrists, both female. The outcome was that I made an application for her compulsory detention in the hospital, accompanied by two written statutory medical recommendations.

There is an increasing expectation of a ‘business as usual’ service and not an ‘emergency’ service on bank holidays. On this particular day, I was one of only three AMHPs available across the county during the daytime. There were seven referrals requiring attention.

My next job was to complete a Section 2 statutory application for a 32-year old man to be admitted under the Mental Health Act to a mental health hospital in a neighbouring county about 40 miles away. I did not know the person, but he had been assessed under the Mental Health Act the previous day by one of my AMHP colleagues and two doctors.

They had concluded he needed to be in a mental health hospital for more specialist assessment because the risks to his own health in the community were so high that he would likely try and kill himself. The assessment team had also concluded that he needed to be detained under the Act because he was reluctant to go there.

Work under the Mental Health Act can be quite challenging at the best of times, but the important thing is to always be person-centred and person-focused.

I was asked to go to a town centre address where I was met by a community support worker from the local mental health crisis resolution and home treatment team and by a secure ambulance with three crew. I collected the previously completed statutory medical recommendations from the local mental health place of safety assessment suite (where they had been in the safe overnight) and I wrote out my statutory application in readiness.

I knew I would still need to check the person’s situation for myself and be satisfied having interviewed him, however briefly, that an application needed to be made.

He wasn’t at home. But we tracked him down at a house six miles away where he was laying a patio in a back garden in return for some cash to tide him over. When we got there, we had a slightly strained conversation in front of one of the houses where he explained that he was ‘rather busy’ with the patio-building and could he ‘go to the mental health hospital another day?'. I suggested he show us the work he had been doing that morning. He agreed and we followed him around to the relevant and more private back garden.

The ambulance was brought to the rear of the house as well. It was there that he decided that he would go to hospital after all. We agreed to wait until he could be paid off for the work done that morning (his mate had gone in search of a cash machine, so we had to wait until his return) and then he stepped into the back of the secure ambulance (an unmarked minibus with child-proof locks operated from the driver’s seat) and off they went.

Before the ambulance left, I gave the crew the completed statutory paperwork; the man thanked us all for our patience and support.

I then went home to work on my laptop and write up my Mental Health Act Assessment reports confirming what I had done that day. I also updated the council’s electronic records. I made sure that the duty manager knew that I was home safe. I finished my work at 7.30pm.


Use the link below to apply for one of our adults’ social work vacancies. We are always happy to speak with:

  • assistant care managers
  • social workers
  • senior social workers
  • senior practitioners
  • best interest assessors.

Support - Be part of a strong, well-trained team which is both supported and supportive.
Balance - Opportunities for flexible working, with the right help to achieve a good work-life balance.
Develop - Work towards your own progression through Continuing Professional Development and clear career paths.

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