Examples of how to use our guidance
These example scenarios feature fictional situations and people. They show how NICE guidance could be used by principal social workers (PSWs).View example scenarios for different social work settings
Examples for Adults’ PSWs
Featured scenario: developing community assets
After reading the chief social work officer's annual report, a principal social worker considers how they can support strengths-based social work and promote wellbeing in their area.
The principal social worker uses the community engagement guideline to show their director the evidence for community engagement as a way of improving wellbeing. This results in the creation of a multi-partner working group to strengthen local community assets. The group uses the community engagement quality standard to measure and report on their progress.
An elected member questions what level of priority should be given to co-production at a strategic level, considering current pressures on the council's budget. The director for adult social care asks the principal social worker what evidence there is for the effectiveness of co-production at a policy level.
The principal social worker develops a presentation for a council meeting, using guidelines on people's experience in adult social care services and decision-making and mental capacity. The presentation demonstrates the evidence for the effectiveness and importance of involving people in shaping their own care and support.
The guidance includes advice on local authorities working with people to co-produce information, policies, and training and makes recommendations for service providers and commissioners.
The Local Safeguarding Board asks each partner to evaluate how they have implemented principles from the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 in relation to capacity assessments and best interest decisions. The principal social worker is asked to lead on this piece of work for the council.
The principal social worker works with the MCA lead to develop an audit to demonstrate how key principles from the Act are being implemented locally. NICE guideline recommendations on decision-making and mental capacity are used to develop the audit questions, as they are aligned to the Act and are based on robust evidence of good practice.
Visit the adults' social care topic page for all NICE guidance, NICE Pathways and quality standards on adults' social care.
- People's experience in adult social care services guideline
- Decision-making and mental capacity guideline
- Community engagement guideline
- Intermediate care including reablement guideline
- Home care guideline
- Transition between inpatient hospital settings and community or care home settings guideline
- Domestic violence and abuse guideline
- Managing medicines for adults receiving social care in the community guideline
- People's experience using adult social care services quality standard
- Community engagement quality standard
- Intermediate care including reablement quality standard
- Home care for older people quality standard
- Transition between inpatient hospital settings and community or care home settings quality standard
- Domestic violence and abuse quality standard
- Medicines management for people receiving social care in the community quality standard
Examples for Children’s PSWs
Featured scenario: developing a positive identity
A local placement resource panel has asked to see evidence of how the looked-after children’s team encourages children and young people to develop their personal identity.
The manager asks for help from the children’s principal social worker, who suggests using actions within the guideline on looked-after children and young people and quality standard on looked-after children and young people to develop questions for an audit. The audit highlights areas of good practice and opportunities for making further improvements.
The guidance includes a number of actions focused on life-story work and broader activity to make sense of identity and relationships.
Parents and young people on a children’s services co-production group have highlighted that there isn’t always a single person coordinating support for children as they transition to adult services.
The principal social worker is asked to work with the co-production group to review processes to ensure that a single named worker is always allocated to support transition. The principal social worker uses the guideline on transition from children’s to adults’ services and quality standard on transition from children's to adults' services to ensure that the work is informed by the best available evidence.
The guidance includes information about involving young people and carers in service design, support for a named worker role, and good practice for named workers.
A council has been criticised for the way that it supports asylum seekers. In particular there have been instances of racist bullying at school which have appeared in the national press.
The director asks the principal social worker to benchmark the support provided to asylum-seeking children and young people, including links to health services. The principal social worker uses NICE's recommendations on looked-after children and young people and post-traumatic stress disorder as part of the benchmarking standard, along with other relevant national guidance and good practice.
The guidance recommends that mental health services and services for people with PTSD are accessible for black and minority ethnic and asylum-seeking children and young people, with appropriate interventions and support.
Visit the children's social care topic page for all NICE guidance, NICE Pathways and quality standards on children's social care.
- Child abuse and neglect guideline
- Harmful sexual behaviour guideline
- Children’s attachment guideline
- Looked-after children and young people guideline
- Antisocial behaviour and conduct disorders in children and young people guideline
- Transition between inpatient mental health settings and community or care home settings guideline
- Transition from children’s to adults’ services guideline
- Domestic violence and abuse guideline
- Child abuse and neglect quality standard
- Children’s attachment quality standard
- Looked-after children and young people quality standard
- Antisocial behaviour and conduct disorders quality standard
- Transition between inpatient mental health settings and community or care home settings quality standard
- Transition from children’s to adults’ services quality standard
- Domestic violence and abuse quality standard
Positive workplaces for social workers
Featured scenario: retaining social workers
A local council is struggling to retain social workers. Analysis of exit interviews shows high levels of sickness absence and negative impact on mental health and wellbeing due to the emotional pressures of the role.
The principal social worker and workforce lead use NICE's guideline on mental wellbeing at work and the Local Government Association's Social Work Health Check to create a business case. This asks the council to introduce new systems and opportunities for social workers to promote mental wellbeing, reduce sickness absence, and improve retention rates.
A council's human resources department has raised a number of concerns about the way that absence and performance issues are being managed within social work teams. Completion of practice supervisor self-assessments by team managers has highlighted inconsistencies in the training and support they have received.
On behalf of the director, the principal social worker works with human resources and the workforce lead to benchmark existing line manager induction training against NICE guidance on workplace health: management practices. The training is updated to include additional content to empower line managers to offer proactive support and manage sensitive situations with greater confidence.
The guidance includes advice on positive senior leadership behaviours and a list of skills and knowledge that line managers should receive training in.
A local council is proposing to relocate locality teams to a number of health centres, as part of a new integrated support service. The team managers are aware that the proposed changes are impacting negatively on the wellbeing of many of the team. They are concerned this might undermine their professional identity.
The team managers use the NICE quality standard on improving employee mental and physical health and wellbeing to make a case to the director for the introduction of a staff engagement forum to discuss and help shape the proposed integrated support service. The staff engagement forum is introduced and provides staff with a positive forum in which to consider solutions to address their concerns.
The guidance highlights the value of managers taking a proactive approach to identifying and managing stress and having staff engagement forums, so that staff can be involved in organisational decisions.
About these examples
We've produced these example scenarios to help principal social workers understand how to use our guidelines and quality standards.
Our guidelines focus on a particular topic or setting and provide a comprehensive set of recommendations for action.
Our quality standards focus on areas of variation in practice and can be used to measure improvement or demonstrate good quality.