COVID-19 resources for Social workers

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Social work during Covid-19: learning for the future: challenges, best practice and professional transformation

British Association of Social Workers

Based on an ongoing survey of social workers during Covid-19, this report presents the ethical and practical experiences social workers reported, the best practice that emerged in the period March to August 2020, and points to the different pathways for social work transformation in the UK in the face of the social and political changes accelerated by COVID19. While we focus on social work professional learning and problem solving in this report, we also acknowledge that social work practice can be strongly influenced by prominent but shifting political ideologies, government policies and public discourses around key social issues. Social workers’ responses to the BASW survey suggest that challenges and best practice emerged and evolved in three main phases. These three phases generally correspond to the time periods: March, April-May and June-August. These phases are connected, but also distinctive in terms of the dominant types of practical and ethical challenges facing social workers and their responses: Phase 1 – chaotic change vs business as usual; Phase 2 – doing proper social work?; Phase 3 – transforming social work vs settling for the ‘new normal’. For each phase, the report sets out the key challenges and best practices. The pre-pandemic social work practice will continue to evolve through and after COVID-19, and social workers need to embrace the opportunities of the positives and manage the constraints/impact of the negatives arising from the pandemic to embrace the profession’s future. At this juncture, two distinct directions for professional development emerge: settling for the ‘new normal’ or transforming social work into practising new ways to continue to advocate for social justice, shared responsibility, care and compassion. The latter vision can be realised during COVID-19 only when social workers continue to be ethically vigilant, practically creative and compassionate in their practice.

Last updated on hub: 21 July 2021

Reflections and learning from our local service response to families during COVID-19

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

In spring 2020, the NSPCC adapted its delivery of local services for children and families across the UK to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Practitioners and teams now deliver some services virtually, and others are using a blend of virtual and face-to-face work (a hybrid service model) to support children and families. This briefing considers the experiences of practitioners, delivery partners, parents, carers and children involved in these adapted services between spring and autumn 2020, including: experiences of technology; how relationships were built virtually between practitioners and families; the quality of engagement between practitioners and families; children’s preferences for where and how sessions took place. Key findings include: providing remote support using virtual and digital methods worked very well for some services and yielded benefits for children and families; remote support was less suitable for high risk, complex cases; hybrid models combining remote and face-to-face support have good potential, if they’re child and family-led.

Last updated on hub: 30 March 2021

Social work leadership through COVID-19

The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services

This report provides an overview of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland between March and November 2020, from some of the individuals at the forefront of our social work services, namely Chief Social Work Officers (CSWOs). The CSWO leads local authorities and their partners in understanding the complexities and cross-cutting nature of social work service delivery. This includes issues such as child protection, adult protection, corporate parenting, and the management of high-risk offenders – and also encompasses the key role social work plays in contributing to the achievement of a wide range of national and local outcomes. The CSWO network identified the importance of taking a collective, and connected approach, grounded in a recognition that localised action should be supported by a common philosophy, rather than seeking to create common practice across local authorities. Early emerging challenges were interwoven with the immediate priorities and concerns: the impact of the pandemic on workforce capacity across services; responding to restrictions on, or immediate ceasing of, normal practice or activities; contingency planning; development of guidance for social workers. The report’s contents include: placing social work – voice and influence; the initial response; social work within wider structures; national professional identity; managing the workforce through a crisis; guidance and legislation; Social Work Scotland’s role through the pandemic; and looking to the future.

Last updated on hub: 29 March 2021

COVID-19 Health and Social Care Workforce Study: May – July 2020: executive summary

Ulster University

Summarises findings from a UK wide survey that measured aspects around quality of working life, wellbeing and coping of the health and social care workforce during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report reveals that overall, COVID-19 has amplified some of the strengths of the UK health and social care workforce. There are the considerable commonalities of human service work but also differences. These apply particularly to the location of work; being on the frontline means different things if a person is working on a hospital unit or in a care home, generally with people who are very ill or at some risk of death. Commonalities among the workforce are their stated altruistic concerns for service users and patients; the very reason why most people work in health and social care. The survey highlighted some differences between groups in terms of their coping mechanisms that may be of interest to HR and employers more generally. For example, while not all younger staff are keen on exercise, it showed that younger staff and men reported this was important to their wellbeing; and while IT proved so valuable in terms of communications and support, it is critical that all workers are IT literate and not further disadvantaged by limits of access or capability. The findings suggest that emotional and psychological support for staff was important in helping reduce the risks of negative work effects during the pandemic. For employers this means enabling this to be part of workplace culture since it is unlikely to manifest itself during a pandemic or crisis if not already existing. Other findings throw a light on the redeployment of staff, which one in ten of our respondents overall had experienced, and the importance of taking care of those who took on extra work when their colleagues were redeployed or on sick leave and the possible risk of burnout or exhaustion.

Last updated on hub: 29 March 2021

COVID-19 Health and Social Care Workforce Study: November 2020 – February 2021: executive summary

Ulster University

The aim of this study was to explore the impact of providing health and social care during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK on the health and social care workforce, including nurses, midwives, allied health professionals (AHPs), social care workers and social workers. The data was collected during the period of November 2020 – January 2021 and the report builds upon the findings from Phase 1 of the study, which ran between May – July 2020. The data came from a survey questionnaire, which measured mental wellbeing, quality of working life, burnout and ways of coping in the UK health and social care workers. Open-ended questions sought further detail from respondents to contextualise the quantitative findings. Two focus groups were also conducted, one with health and social care managers and one with frontline workers. Overall, respondents have been working more hours overtime since the start of the pandemic compared to before. When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on their work, nearly half (49.3%) of the respondents UK-wide felt overwhelmed by increased pressures, 46.1% felt impacted but not significantly and only 4.6% reported that their service had not been impacted and it was stepped down. Social work and nursing were the most impacted occupational groups. The overarching themes that emerged in Phase 2 (Nov 2020 – Jan 2021) are the same as those identified in Phase 1 (April – July 2020) of the study: changing conditions, connections, and communication – respondents raised a number of concerns relating to changes in workload, work roles and working safely. Quantitative analyses revealed that both mental wellbeing and quality of working life deteriorated from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of the study and respondents appeared to be using positive coping strategies (e.g., active coping, planning) less and negative coping strategies (e.g., venting, self-blame) more to deal with work-related stressors.

Last updated on hub: 29 March 2021

Health and social care workers’ quality of working life and coping while working during the COVID-19 pandemic, November 2020 – January 2021: findings from a UK survey

Ulster University

The aim of this study was to explore the impact of providing health and social care during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK on the health and social care workforce, including nurses, midwives, allied health professionals (AHPs), social care workers and social workers. The data was collected during the period of November 2020 – January 2021 and the report builds upon the findings from Phase 1 of the study, which ran between May – July 2020. The data came from a survey questionnaire, which measured mental wellbeing, quality of working life, burnout and ways of coping in the UK health and social care workers. Open-ended questions sought further detail from respondents to contextualise the quantitative findings. Two focus groups were also conducted, one with health and social care managers and one with frontline workers. Overall, respondents have been working more hours overtime since the start of the pandemic compared to before. When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on their work, nearly half (49.3%) of the respondents UK-wide felt overwhelmed by increased pressures, 46.1% felt impacted but not significantly and only 4.6% reported that their service had not been impacted and it was stepped down. Social work and nursing were the most impacted occupational groups. The overarching themes that emerged in Phase 2 (Nov 2020 – Jan 2021) are the same as those identified in Phase 1 (April – July 2020) of the study: changing conditions, connections, and communication – respondents raised a number of concerns relating to changes in workload, work roles and working safely. Quantitative analyses revealed that both mental wellbeing and quality of working life deteriorated from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of the study and respondents appeared to be using positive coping strategies (e.g., active coping, planning) less and negative coping strategies (e.g., venting, self-blame) more to deal with work-related stressors.

Last updated on hub: 29 March 2021

Children's social care: Government consultation response

Department for Education

This report sets out the Government’s additional response to a consultation seeking views on proposed changes to the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020. These are intended to provide flexibilities to support the effective delivery of children’s social care services, whilst ensuring children’s safety. In August 2020 the Government reviewed these flexibilities and consulted on whether to continue a small number of them for a further six months. Given the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government have now sought views on whether those regulations should again be extended for continued use to 30 September 2021. Alongside, it consulted on two proposed amendments to adoption regulations. Analysis of the responses indicated that the majority of those responding agreed with our proposals to extend the existing flexibilities in relation to virtual visits, medical reports (for fostering and adoption) and the minimum frequency of Ofsted inspections. Over 95% of respondents agreed that other relevant healthcare professionals should be considered to complete medical reports for adoptions, but concerns were raised about who these professionals would be and whether they would have the appropriate skills. The proposal to remove the full examination in adoption received the most disagreement, on the grounds of safeguarding concerns.

Last updated on hub: 15 March 2021

Coronavirus briefing: safeguarding guidance for schools

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This briefing summarises the latest guidance for UK schools on safeguarding during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It pulls together key safeguarding guidance from all four UK nations on how to keep children safe during the pandemic. It answers frequently asked questions including: who has to go to school; how to monitor attendance; what happens if nominated child protection leads need to self-isolate or become ill; what schools should do about free school meals; and what happens with families who have contract arrangements or where parents are separated.

Last updated on hub: 02 March 2021

Coronavirus briefing: guidance for social work practitioners

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

A summary of guidance for social workers and social work practitioners who are working with children and families during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The briefing brings together key guidance from all four UK nations to answer some frequently asked questions. Areas covered include: the social work workforce, including ensuring there are sufficient social workers to support children and families; how the coronavirus is affecting the child protection system; and the impact on direct work with children and families. [First published 22 May 2020 under a different title]

Last updated on hub: 01 March 2021

The digital divide: the impact on the rights of care leavers in Scotland

Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection

This report shares the findings of a focused piece of research to understand care leavers’ experiences of digital exclusion before and during the COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland in 2020. The report begins with a brief discussion of the context and methodology, before reporting on the findings and discussing the implications of these. The study used mixed methods and included two forms of data collection – an online survey and an online focus group. Twenty four care leavers filled in the substantial part of the survey which address experiences of digital use and access during COVID-19. The views and experiences of care experienced young people show the necessity of Scottish society recognising access to technology and digital spaces as a fundamental right; without which mental health is compromised, educational and employment opportunities are blocked, and access to vital support and basic essentials remain out of reach. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and highlighted many of the structural disadvantages and inequalities which care leavers and care experienced young adults already face. Views shared in this research clearly show that poverty and financial insecurity is a barrier to accessing the necessary devices, software, Wi-Fi, repairs or technological support that are necessary to get online and stay connected. Access to technology was frequently cited as being facilitated via formal and informal social networks and organisational links, including flatmates and friends, voluntary organisations, educational establishments and employers, and at times dependent or beholden to those relationships. In order to be ‘good enough’ corporate parents, Scottish local authorities must recognise their responsibilities and support children and young people in the digital present and prepare them for the digital future.

Last updated on hub: 02 February 2021

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