COVID-19 resources

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Social distancing and social work field placements

Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning

The impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on social work practice placements around the world and in the United Arab Emirates is of concern to students, social work educators and service users. This practice note, focuses on the impact of the interruption to social work practice learning for students at the United Arab Emirates University and reflect on the introduction of 'social distancing', a health and safety strategy aimed at reducing the likelihood of the spread of the coronavirus. The paper proposes ways in which students in school placements can continue to develop their social work knowledge and skills ‘from a distance’ and while physically absent from their practice learning settings.

Last updated on hub: 17 April 2020

Social distancing in a social therapy environment

Therapeutic Communities: the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities

Purpose: This paper aims to describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a prison-based therapeutic community (TC). Design/methodology/approach: The paper takes the form of a case study where the authors reflect on their current practice, using the findings of research on social isolation and the overarching TC principles to explore the effect of the pandemic on the TC at HMP Grendon. The authors consider how the residents and staff adjusted to the change as the parameters changed when the social distancing rules were imposed and how they adapted to the prolonged break to therapy. Sections in the paper were written by a resident and an operational member of staff. The authors conclude with their thoughts on how to manage the consequences the lockdown has brought and start to think about what returning to “normality” might mean. Findings: The paper describes the adjustments made by the residents and staff as the UK Government imposed the lockdown. The authors, including a resident and an operational member of staff comment on the psychological and practical impact these adjustments had. The thought is given to the idea of “recovery”, returning to “normality” and how this study can be best managed once restrictions are lifted. Research limitations/implications: At the time of writing, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at HMP Grendon. The measures and commitment from all staff and residents in the prison to keep the prison environment safe may in part account for this. This paper explores the effects of lockdown on the emotional environment in a TC and highlights the consequences that social isolation can have on any individual. To the authors’ knowledge, there is currently no research undertaken on the impact of lockdown/social isolation on a TC. This research would be useful, as the authors postulate from reflections on current practice that the effects of the lockdown will be greater in a social therapy environment. Originality/value: HMP Grendon started in 1962, as this time there have been no significant events that have meant the suspension of therapy for such a sustained period. It is, therefore, important that the impact of such is considered and reflected upon.

Last updated on hub: 09 December 2020

Social isolation and psychological distress among older adults related to COVID-19: a narrative review of remotely-delivered interventions and recommendations

Journal of Applied Gerontology

The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with several short- and long-term negative impacts on the well-being of older adults. Physical distancing recommendations to reduce transmission of the SARS-CoV2-19 virus increase the risk of social isolation and loneliness, which are associated with negative outcomes including anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and mortality. Taken together, social isolation and additional psychological impacts of the pandemic (e.g., worry, grief) underscore the importance of intervention efforts to older adults. This narrative review draws upon a wide range of evidence to provide a comprehensive overview of appropriate remotely-delivered interventions for older adults that target loneliness and psychological symptoms. These include interventions delivered by a range of individuals (i.e., community members to mental health professionals), and interventions that vary by implementation (e.g., self-guided therapy, remotely-delivered interventions via telephone or video call). Recommendations to overcome barriers to implementation and delivery are provided, with consideration given to the different living situations.

Last updated on hub: 28 January 2021

Social isolation and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-national analysis


Background and Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in social isolation globally, creating heightened levels of stress and anxiety. This study investigates the link between social isolation and mental well-being in later life, and how it varies across countries. Research Design and Methods: We draw on a subset of older adults from Global Behaviors and Perceptions in the COVID-19 Pandemic, a unique global online survey of 13,660 participants from 62 countries. We use mixed-effects models to analyze the data. Results: Social isolation (distancing) significantly predicts poor mental health operationalized as coronavirus-induced distress (p < .01). At the aggregate level, average distress varies positively across countries with higher numbers of coronavirus-related deaths (p < .10) and more fragile state capacity (p < .05), while varying negatively across those with more stringent anticoronavirus policies (p < .05). Finally, we report several cross-level interactions between social isolation and the total number of deaths (p = .025), policy stringency (p = .065), state fragility (p = .061), and globalization index (p = .071). Discussion and Implications: Our study shows that a proper understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on the mental well-being of older adults should consider the moderating role of national context.

Last updated on hub: 29 January 2021

Social isolation continued: Covid-19 shines a light on what self-advocates know too well

Qualitative Social Work

Covid-19 has been an unprecedented time for social work as a profession and even more so for marginalized communities. This paper shares the reflections of three self-advocates (persons labelled/with intellectual disabilities engaged in advocacy and activism), a social worker, and a social work educator and researcher. It is intended as a rallying cry for social work to rethink how we deliver services to ensure that people who have already been made vulnerable through oppressive ableist practices and assumptions are not put at greater disadvantage at times like Covid-19. Hearing directly from self-advocates, we learn of their exclusion from pandemic planning, and of the ways that physical and social distancing protocols have worked to exacerbate the isolation, marginalization and inequities that people labelled/with intellectual disabilities have experienced over the years. We are called upon to more actively focus on advocacy efforts with people labelled/with intellectual disabilities to increase their involvement in planning, as well as access to supports, and to ensure that they do not remain “the left behind of the left behind” .

Last updated on hub: 16 March 2021

Social policy in the face of a global pandemic: policy responses to the COVID‐19 crisis

Social Policy and Administration

How have welfare states responded to the coronavirus pandemic? In this introductory article, we provide a synopsis of papers that comprise this special issue on social policy responses to COVID‐19, an overview of some of the key questions they raise, and some provisional answers to these questions. Our conclusions are threefold: first, these social policy responses, while entailing new developments in many countries, nonetheless reflect, at least in part, existing national policy legacies. Second, these responses can be understood as a form of “emergency Keynesianism,” which is characterized by the massive use of deficit spending during economic crises, with the aim of to supporting rather than challenging core capitalist institutions. Third, there are clear differences in terms of the nature of the reforms enacted during the initial phase of the COVID‐19 crisis as compared to reforms enacted as a response to the 2008 financial crisis.

Last updated on hub: 25 March 2021

Social policy responses to COVID‐19 in Canada and the United States: explaining policy variations between two liberal welfare state regimes

Social Policy and Administration

Canada and the United States are often grouped together as liberal welfare‐state regimes, with broadly similar levels of social spending. Yet, as the COVID‐19 pandemic reveals, the two countries engage in highly divergent approaches to social policymaking during a massive public health emergency. Drawing on evidence from the first 5 months of the pandemic, this article compares social policy measures taken by the United States and Canadian governments in response to COVID‐19. In general, this paper shows that Canadian responses were both more rapid and comprehensive than those of the United States. This variation, the authors argue, can be explained by analysing the divergent political institutions, pre‐existing policy legacies, and variations in cross‐partisan consensus, which have all shaped national decision‐making in the middle of the crisis.

Last updated on hub: 07 December 2020

Social Work 2020 under Covid-19

This is a free online magazine which was produced during the Covid-19 crisis, edited by an editorial collective, about issues that are of interest to those who use social work or social care services, those who provide them and those who undertake teaching or research around them. It ran for five editions until 14 July 2020.

Last updated on hub: 24 September 2020

Social work and COVID-19 pandemic: an action call

International Social Work

The social work profession, more than any other, is most hurt by the rampaging coronavirus (aka, COVID-19) pandemic given the scourge’s pernicious impact on society’s underserved and undervalued populations. More so, the pandemic has undermined the profession’s historical value commitment to social justice and human rights while overturning our insistence on the importance of human relationships. The purpose of this essay is to explicate the nexus between social work and COVID-19 pandemic. While noting the deafening silence of the profession in the global discourse of the pandemic, it advocates for the urgency of our response if our profession is to attain significant public value amid the current loss of lives and threats to human rights. Strategies for our professional action, in flattening the curve of the contagion, are laid out.

Last updated on hub: 19 November 2020

Social work and Covid-19: lessons for education and practice

Critical Publishing

Captures the unique moment in time created by the Covid-19 pandemic and uses this as a lens to explore contemporary issues for social work education and practice. The 2020 coronavirus pandemic provided an unprecedented moment of global crisis, which placed health and social care at the forefront of the national agenda. The lockdown, social distancing measures and rapid move to online working created multiple challenges and safeguarding concerns for social work education and practice, whilst the unparalleled death rate exacerbated pre-existing problems with communicating openly about death and bereavement. Many of these issues were already at the surface of social work practice and education and this book examines how the health crisis has exposed these, whilst acting as a potential catalyst for change. This book acts as a testament to the historical moment whilst providing a forum for drawing together discussion from contemporary educators, practitioners and users of social work services.

Last updated on hub: 09 February 2021

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