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Self-directed learning for adult social care

Coronavirus update

Subject to the ongoing situation, it's essential that we continue recruiting safely. Therefore, interviews and communication will be virtual wherever possible and this will be communicated to you directly by the hiring manager.

Please also expect that advert closing dates and interview dates may change as required. We still continue to welcome applications for our current roles and wish you the best of luck with your application.

We would welcome applications especially for our most critical roles to ensure we're supporting our residents

There are many ways you can develop your career independently and the learning we undertake for ourselves is often remembered much longer than sitting in a classroom. It is also often quicker, more person centred, and cost effective.

Our advice is…be curious about your work, learning, development and the world of Social Care in general!

It can be interesting to see where professional curiosity leads and what knowledge, skills and confidence you can gain along the way.

Here are some ways that you can facilitate your own learning and development.

Read and learn

We use the internet all the time, but how often do you use it for learning and development? If you're not sure about something, check it out! We would always advise to use reliable sources, so think Skills for Care; Social Care Institute for Excellence and Community Care. There is a wealth of information out there.

As well as the web, also think about books and articles – they still exist!

You can pick up second hand books at a reasonable price, but you can also get copies of articles from professional magazines to inspire you and learn and develop.

Shadowing others and joint working

New colleagues often 'shadow' others to learn but this can also be useful for existing or experienced staff if you are completing work you haven't done before, or have less confidence to complete. You could shadow a colleague, or work together so you get opportunity to learn from a more experienced colleague.

Self-assessment tools

The Practice Development Team have some templates to help you think about the work you do in Adult Social Care. You can use them to assess how confident you feel about your knowledge and skills now and then again after you've had some practice. This may help you to inform your personal development needs and with support of your supervisor, you could create a personal development plan to develop further in the areas that you have identified.


It is recognised that regular, good quality supervision not only supports better practice, but supports staff to feel valued and more confident as a result. It is a joint responsibility to make sure supervision takes place, and that you and your supervisor are able to contribute to the agenda.

Preparation is key to this, so make a note of what you want to bring to the sessions and think about how supervision can support you with your personal development plan.

Critical reflection

Reflecting on our work is a key skill that can support self-improvement. Thinking about what we did and what went well; what could have gone better and how we might do things differently in the future.

Discussion and peer support

Who do you know, either in your team or maybe a colleague in another part of the service who you respect and value for their knowledge? If you want to find out more about a particular subject, or just have a question – ask for a meeting or a few minutes of their time.

Coaching pool

Surrey county council has a coaching pool that is available to surrey staff. If you are a surrey employee, you can arrange to meet with a person who can, using coaching methods, support you with a difficult decision or for advice about your career steps. Surrey staff can find the coaching pool via the learning and development section of the surrey portal.

Direct observation

Students and newly qualified social workers and occupational therapists have to undertake observations of their practice as part of their training. This helps them to learn in practice and gain constructive feedback from a more experienced colleague. Maybe this would be beneficial for you, if you are working on a piece of work where you feel less confident or have less knowledge.