Social work is a professional and academic discipline that seeks to improve the quality of life and subjective well-being of individuals, families, couples, groups, and communities through research, policy, community organizing, direct practice, crisis intervention, and teaching for the benefit of those affected by social disadvantages such as poverty, mental and physical illness or disability, and social injustice, including violations of their civil liberties and human rights. The profession is dedicated to social justice and the well-being of oppressed and marginalized individuals and communities.
A person who practices social work is called a social worker. In the UK, the title Social Worker is protected by law and only those who have undergone approved training at university either through a Bachelor or Masters degree in Social Work and are registered with the appropriate regulatory body (the Health and Care Professions Council in England, the Scottish Social Services Council, the Care Council for Wales, or the Northern Ireland Social Care Council) may practice social work and be called a social worker. Social workers typically undergo a systematic set of training and qualifications that are distinct from those of social care workers or care assistants, who may undertake a social work role but not necessarily have the qualifications or professional skills of a qualified social worker. Currently, there is no formal qualifications or training to practice as a social care assistant, care worker, or carer, but mostly ancillary staff are accountable to a qualified member of staff, such as a social worker.