June 29

What do social services look for in a home visit


As a social worker, depending on the type of visit, I can end up looking for many things. But in this article, I want to share what social services commonly look for in a home visit, regardless of the type of visit we are on.


Having a messy home, with dishes everywhere, clothes piled, and trash all over the floor… This is often one of the first warning signs that not everything is right in this home.

Whilst we are all human, and therefore imperfect, having a terribly messy home is not exactly the best impression you can make to a social worker that everything is under control.

what social workers look for in home visit

Recently bought items

Many clients come to me telling me of their financial difficulties. But recently, I saw a client with a new phone in his hand when I visited at his home. Another client had a brand new wardrobe. Was their financial difficulty that severe?

Whilst I am not in a place to judge their purchases or what they choose to buy, as a social worker, I tend to look for recently bought big-ticket items as an indication of the family’s financial capability.

what do social services look for in a home visit


As a social worker, I often like to check if the family has enough food. It is not only whether there is enough food, but whether there is nutritious food. I remembered a client who used to feed his two young children bread and jam everyday. I was concerned that those two young children were not necessarily getting the nutrients they needed. In addition, I’ve seen other clients who have filled their entire fridge with microwave meals and freezer with frozen meals. These meals might not necessarily be the most healthy option for the family.

To do so, I tend to ask the client to show me his food cupboard, or his fridge to see if he has sufficient food for the family. I also like to see if the family has a way of cooking their food, by observing their cookers or ovens. This way, I can ensure that the family does not only have food, but a way to prepare the food.

Shower/bath area

Going into a client’s toilet can often reveal a lot about the client. I used to have a client who would do everything in his toilet. He would do his laundry, washing, and store his bicycle! It helped me to see what was safe and unsafe for him. I also started to look at what changes we could make to help him live better.

When I go into a client’s toilet, I tend to note if the place is safe. Then, I observe if the client has the normal toiletries, such as toothbrushes, toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo. A lack of these things might show that the client is struggling financially to afford such items. Or he might not be engaging in regular self-care for his own good.


Having the right furniture in a home is necessary for the family to thrive, and just survive. I once encountered a family who didn’t have a dining table to eat on. They would frequently eat out or on the floor. They also didn’t have a fridge to store items. This meant that they could not cook much. In addition, they did not have a water heater for hot showers in the morning. All of these meant that the children were not able to feel a sense of belonging to home, and would often much rather be out of the home.

One of my first priorities as a social worker was to ensure that they had the necessary household furniture to make home more like home. I wanted them to feel at home and not just housed.

This eventually helped in building a greater relationship between the parent and her children. It also reduced the problems the children gave to their parent.

This is a list of things that I, as a social worker, would tend to look out for in a home visit. If you have other things that might be helpful, please feel free to add them in the comments below!

Home visits are a crucial part of a social worker’s day. I hope this helps you to answer what social services look for in a home visit.

To find out how you might do better at other areas of your work, you can check:

How to write better casenotes

How to manage caseloads

How to focus


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  • I’ve been involved with Social Services, recently. They tell me that, surprise visits, aren’t done anymore.
    Question, how do you expect to get the complete story, if they know you’re going?
    Neglect, abuse and other actions, will change, because they know you’re going. Then back to ‘normal’, when you’ve left.
    My situation is regarding my granddaughter. Her mum makes sure everything, appears, as it should, but in reality, a lot of things, will not be seen. We know this, because our granddaughter tells us.

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