Embedding digital practice: The role of the practitioner

Successful digital practice is inclusive and considered: this section explores when and how to use digital and the decision-making process.


Digital practice is an additional method to engage and support the people you are working with. Successful digital practice does not replace in-person practice, but enhances it by offering flexibility and choice. Actively including digital practice in your work increases the options for young people and encourages us to prioritise their voice.

The guidance below offers insight into the factors that affect the decision-making process around when to use digital practice, providing questions for you to think about before using our How to Meet Tool with the young person.
When using digital, it’s easy to rely on the obvious platforms, such as Whatsapp messaging and video chat, but social care workers are practising digitally in lots of creative ways – visit our Digital Toolkit for some inspiration (and to find examples of when digital practice works less well!)
Digital ToolkitHow to Meet Tool
What are the options?
  • What options for meeting are available to the young person, digital or otherwise? Have you consulted your organisation’s guidelines?
  • What options are most appropriate for the age and stage of the young person?
  • Are there any legal restrictions around why, when and where you can meet. Does the young person understand them?
  • What information from your sessions must be shared with others? How will you share this with the young person?
  • To what extent can the young person decide who can be present when you meet?
Which options does the young person prefer?
  • How will you know and understand the young person’s meeting preferences (type, time, location) for the different reasons you will meet?
  • How will they know they are being listened to?
  • Where will they have agency in the meeting, or around the arrangements for the meeting? How will you maximise this?
Why are you meeting?
  • Think about all the reasons you’ll be meeting with this young person; do they understand the different reasons for meeting (and the purpose of any formal meeting)?
  • What kind of support might they need in these different situations? How will you provide that support?
  • Which of the young person's meeting preferences are the most appropriate for the reasons you are meeting?
CPC practice: COVID-19
How's your relationship?
How's your relationship?
  • Are the young person's preferences the most appropriate for the stage you are at in your relationship, or for the work you intend to do?
  • What actions are you taking to purposefully develop this relationship, encourage trust and maintain positive impact?
  • Do you hold each other to account for the things you both say you will do (high support/high challenge)?
  • When did you last see each other in person? Does not meeting in person indicate that you or the young person might be avoiding a difficult conversation? Or perhaps they find it easier to discuss complex emotional issues online (different people respond to this in different ways)?
Are they safe choices?
  • Do you and the young person think that the young person’s choices about how to meet are safe? Do you agree what might be risky about them?
  • If not, what are the differences and can you have an open discussion about them?
  • Are some options too unsafe to be considered?
  • Do you both agree how the young person could be safer physically and emotionally when meeting people online?
  • How will you assess and manage any risks in the digital space (particularly before, during and after meeting)?
  • How will you make decisions if you don’t agree?
What extra support might the young person need?
  • What do you need to do to support the young person’s preferences for meeting (have you consulted your organisation’s guidelines)?
  • How do you know their accessibility needs? Will you need to use our accessible version of the How to Meet Tool?
  • How will you ensure digital inclusion?
  • Do you need to get some specialist advice about the right type of accessibility support?
  • Do you have time before the meeting to address the young person’s accessibility needs?
Actively supporting the participation of parents/carers
  • What do you need to explore with parents/carers about their preferences about how you will meet and any limitations/accessibility issues that might exist?
  • How will you engage parents and carers before/during/after decision-making meetings to enable and support participation?
  • Which cultural norms do you need to understand to effectively support their participation in the different meeting spaces?
  • What support do they need to make the way you are meeting work most effectively in the different spaces?
  • Do you know what they would like to discuss?
Do you understand the young person’s culture and identity?
  • What do you need to understand about the young person's culture to support their choices?
  • What do you need to understand about the young person's identity to support their choices?
  • What cultural norms and practices should you be aware of? Why are these important to the young person?
  • What challenges and inequalities might they face? What’s your role in addressing these?
Intersectionality and identityUnderstanding cultures
How will you implement the young person’s choices?
  • Successful virtual practice is thoughtful and planned. How will you prepare?
  • Do you need to improve your digital literacy skills and confidence? How will you do this?
  • Where will you record the young person’s choices so that other workers will see them?
  • How often will you review the communication methods you are agreeing?
  • Can you do anything else to empower their choices?
Next steps
We recommend exploring our Digital Toolkit to learn more about how to implement digital practice successfully and creatively.
Digital ToolkitHow to Meet Tool