Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, is a term the Health and Care Professions Council uses to define social worker’s commitment to staying on top of personal development and changes to their profession. Keeping your skills up-to-date is a vital part of social work because research and policies are constantly changing and regularly have an impact on how practitioners deal with caseloads.

As the regulator for social workers, the HCPC requires that everyone should maintain a detailed record of their CPD. However, in order to assess the quality of CPD, the regulator picks a random selection of 2.5% for an audit and will ask them to complete a profile of their CPD activities. It’s therefore important that social workers understand all the HCPC’s standards of conduct, performance, proficiency and ethics before filling out their profiles. So, if you’re called for an inspection, here is how you’ll need to go about submitting your profile.

What happens when you’re selected for an audit?

If you’re selected for audit, then the HCPC will ask you to send in your written profile which explains what CPD you have done, and how it meets the required standards. The profile can either be emailed or sent by post and then examined by CPD assessors from the social work profession.

HCPC will use the assessment criteria to judge whether or not you have demonstrated that you have been doing a sufficient amount of activities and that your CPD has been effective in developing your skills and the support you provide for service users. This normally takes 8-12 weeks and the assessors will write to you to let you know if your profile has met the standards fully, or partially, or not at all.

What is a CPD profile?

The CPD profile is based on a template provided by the HCPC to those selected for audit, and consists of a summary of the last two years of your practice history, a statement of how that has helped you meet the CPD standards, and evidence that supports your statement.

The standards stress that social workers should keep records of all CPD, demonstrate that it is relevant to current practice, ensure that it contributes to the quality of practice.

The HCPC can refuse to renew a registration if you fail to meet the CPD standards, which would prevent you from practising, so it’s important to take the process seriously and stay organised.

How does the profile come together?

The three sections of the profile – the summary, statement and evidence – closely correspond to the job description and personal development plan that most social workers have, so these provide a good resource for completing the profile.

The summary of practice history is similar to your job description. This should, therefore, include details of your responsibilities, point out any specialist areas you work in and talk about the people you work with: colleagues, stakeholders and service users.

The personal statement explains how you have met the CPD standards, and this section should focus on how your CPD learning has helped you improve the quality of your work, and how it benefits service users. The HCPC suggests that you use your personal development plan, if you have one, as a starting point to demonstrate how you have updated your skills and what learning needs you have identified and met. Specifically, they say they want three to six points which cover these areas.

The evidence to support your statement needs to be specific, rather than comprehensive as the HCPC says it ‘strongly encourages’ you not to send a full record of all your CPD activities. A brief timeline of your activities is enough along with a brief description which references the CPD standards the evidence relates to.

It’s worth taking a look at the four sample profiles provided by the British Association of Social Workers and also referring to the evidence examples the HCPC outlines of their site.

How to submit your profile.

You can download a copy of the CPD profile form then send it with copies of your supporting evidence to:

Registration Department – CPD audits 
The Health and Care Professions Council 
Park House 
184 Kennington Park Road
SE11 4BU

If the assessors decide that your profile does not meet the required standards, they will write to you asking for more evidence, and you may be given further time to do further CPD activities and rewrite your profile. Alternatively, if you think they haven’t considered your profile correctly, you have 14 days to point out any issues, and it’s also possible to appeal against their decision.

After the CPD profile system was introduced in 2014, only six social workers were removed from the register and fewer than ten were subjected to reassessment, while a total of 78.6% were accepted first time around. So even though the process may seem arduous, remember that it’s not intended to catch people out.