There seem to be several enquiries across the Social Work groups on Facebook and although Mthobisi Nene started a valuable post on this important subject in the Facebook Group Social Workers for Better Salaries, I would like to expand on some of the steps.
First Things First
Do you have the minimum of 5 years experience to be able to start a practice?
Do you have a good support system?
Have you identified a supervisor?
Have you started networking for support and clients?
These questions are important to explore and the answers should all be “Yes!” before you pursue any of the other steps.
Step 1: Apply to the SACSSP to obtain your Certificate of Status Report and the Personal Particulars form which is also attached to the link. It costs R600.00 and note the following:
NB** Please note that your request form must be returned to the council either by fax, email or post, together with your proof of payment. This extract will be issued within 30 to 45 working days from the date of receipt. ALL Annual fees payments must be paid up to current! ATTACH your proof of the payment for the request of a status report on return to continue for processing – attach proof of payment for the requested document/s as well as the annual fees for 2020/2021 NOW DUE!!!
*NB.: NO REQUESTS WILL BE CONSIDERED IF NOT ACCOMPANIED BY THE PROOF OF PAYMENT/S OR IF THE CURRENT YEAR’S ANNUAL FEES TO BE PAID UP IN FULL
Step 2: You can download the forms from the Board of Health Funders website (BHF).
You will need the following:
- Certified copy of ID.
- Certified copy of the passport and proof of permanent residence permit, where the applicant is not a South African citizen.
- Certified copy of Marriage Certificate or Divorce Decree (where applicable).
- Certified copy of the Registration Certificate from the South African Council for Social Service Professions.
- Certified Copy of the South African Council for Social Service Professions receipt for the current year.
- Certified Copy of the Certificate for Good Standing or Status report from the South African Council for Social Service Professions.
- If you are an employee of a Government Department or NGO, please forward documentation confirming that you have the necessary permission to practice outside of your conditions of employment.
The following are attached to the application form:
- Form providing details of a Commissioner of Oaths
- Form providing details of the practice/facility/service/business
- Signed Declaration
- Banking details verification form
- OPTIONAL: The bank debit order instruction form for PCNS annual renewal fees
1. Faxed or Emailed Applications will not be accepted. Applications must be submitted by way of Registered Mail or Hand Delivered to the BHF Office
2. Should your Registration change from a General Practitioner to a Specialist, a New Practice Code Number will be issued, and the GP Practice Code Number will be closed.
3. The Compliance and Risk Unit has been established to monitor adherence to the PCN System’s Terms and Conditions.
Should you have any Queries regarding this Application, please contact Client Services on 0861 30 20 10 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 3: If you hand-deliver it, you will get a reference number immediately and the practice number within a few hours via email. Delivery via courier can take up to 2 weeks and the BHF will send you a document with your practice number. Once you have your practice number, you have to contact each of the medical aid companies who cover Social Work services in order to register with them. This is a time consuming administrative activity but will allow you to claim directly from the Medical Aid on behalf of your clients. If you do not do this, clients will pay you upfront and can still claim back from their Medical Aid but you will have to supply the appropriate ICD-10 code to your invoice.
Step 4: If you are unfamiliar with ICD-10 codes, it is useful to consider registering with The South African Association for Social Workers in Private Practice SAASWIPP as they assist their members with training on the appropriate codes and how to run an ethical practice. Please note that the annual membership fee each year is payable from the 1st of January to the 31st of March.
This fee is a bit steep but consider whether it will be valuable to you if you do not have support from such a body. It is NOT compulsory to join SAASWIPP if you are in private practice.
Do I Register My Practice as a Company?
Another important consideration is whether you are going to run the practice as a sole proprietorship or a business – this will depend on your scope of practice. if you wish to work in the Wellness field and register with companies on their databases, it is better to have a registered company as one needs various documents such as BEEE certificates; Tax Clearance Certificates and …. Many companies will not utilise your services as a sole proprietor.
The good thing is that registration is not a difficult or expensive process and you can do it all online at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission CIPC. A name reservation application costs R50. A company registration may vary between R125 and R475 (R125 for a private company, R475 for a non-profit company registered without members). For more information on whether you should register your business, you can read more about it here.
Now you are ready to print those business cards; create your website and start your marketing.
How Will I Secure Work/Referrals?
Forethought to this important question is vital to explore before taking the leap into private practice as this is where you will make you money. Bear in mind that you want to remain ethical in your practice and should only focus on that which you are familiar and comfortable with – do not accept a case that you are not 100% comfortable with as this just lends itself to ethical risks. You need to have a network of resources to whom you can refer those clients that you cannot assist.
You should also explore linking with Wellness organisations who get referrals from other sources and who use social workers in private practice to render services on their behalf. There are a number of such organisations out there and seeking them out is a good way of networking and a vital step in getting your business off the ground.
Remember: The more you put in, the more you will get out! Good luck with your venture!