COVID-19 resources

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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

Social work practice during the COVID-19 state of emergency in Spain

Social Work and Social Sciences Review

Spain has been hardest hit by the pandemic and, thus, one of the first to implement the strictest confinement measures. Social service is a key sector for alleviating the negative social impacts of the country's healthcare crisis and confinement. This has represented a big challenge for social workers, who have been obligated to take on larger caseloads, new responsibilities, and a new working environment. Social workers have had to handle these issues from a work setting plagued by uncertainty, coping with a crisis never experienced before. We conducted an online survey during the pandemic to aim to investigate what kind of work has developed by the social workers of the social service at the Community of Madrid and the City Council. Respondents felt stressed and confused by lack of coordination between care and public health agencies. They have had to manage aids and assistance related to food and hygiene, emotional support and general information on the pandemic, as well as all financial aids allocated by the administration. Teleworking became regular which undoubtedly has contributed to reducing any lingering reservations they still had about this method.

Last updated on hub: 18 August 2021

Social work practice education and training during the pandemic: disruptions and discoveries

International Social Work

The COVID-19 pandemic evoked a disruption to social work (SW) practice education and this brief note describes discoveries made in teaching SW practice virtually. One example is Virtual Practice Fridays, adapted to build SW practice competencies online, and another example is a re-designed course on cross-cultural SW practice using simulation-based learning.

Last updated on hub: 19 November 2020

Social work practice with adults under the rising second wave of Covid-19 in England: frontline experiences and the use of professional judgement

British Journal of Social Work

The impacts on adult social work in England of the Covid-19 pandemic were sudden and are proving long-standing. In England, many social workers moved to home working and virtual contact with colleagues, managers, staff from other agencies and service users. A first national lockdown was followed by a lessening of restrictions, but a second wave started at the end of Summer 2020 and restrictions were re-introduced. This study draws on telephone interviews with a sample of twenty-two social workers working with adults in a wide range of roles and settings in ten local authorities and two National Health Service Hospital Trusts, interviewed August-October 2020. Following transcription, interview data were analysed thematically. Findings are reported under three emerging themes: using professional judgement, new and emerging case work and embedding change. These are compared with findings from studies of practice in children’s services and of surveys of social workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Implications for practice, service users and research are explored.

Last updated on hub: 15 June 2021

Social work practice with ethnic minorities during the COVID-19 pandemic: learning from the Arab minority in Israel

British Journal of Social Work

Although the critical role of social workers in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and support for communities affected by the virus was stressed in international declarations of the social work profession, how social workers fulfil their role in practice has remained virtually unexplored. This question is of greater importance when it comes to ethnic minority communities that may be disproportionately vulnerable to COVID-19 in light of inequities, discrimination and marginality. This study examined action strategies adopted by social workers in the public service in response to the challenges faced by ethnic minorities during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this purpose, twenty-five in-depth interviews were conducted with social workers employed in the public welfare services in Israel, who work with Arab communities. Research findings revealed seven action strategies that have the potential to provide protection and support to a minority population group during the pandemic, bridge language and cultural gaps and promote policies that strive for social justice. The discussion emphasises the need and importance of social workers to act in a socio-cultural–political context-sensitive manner in pandemic conditions, whilst demonstrating flexibility in addressing the changing and unique needs of their clients. Implications for policy, practice and research are presented.

Last updated on hub: 10 August 2021

Social work under coronavirus: children’s practitioners report bigger problems than adults’ colleagues

Community Care

The results from a survey carried out by Community Care about practice in England during the Covid-19 pandemic. The survey was completed by almost 500 people working in adults’, children’s and mental health services, 92 percent of them qualified social workers. An analysis of responses found considerable disparities between adults’ and children’s practitioners across the measures such as: satisfaction with their employer, access to personal protective equipment and whether they had faced practice situations that made them anxious. Adults' services staff were happier with access to personal protective equipment and less likely to report increases in workload during pandemic than children's practitioners.

Last updated on hub: 08 June 2020

Social work, mental health, older people and COVID-19

International Psychogeriatrics

This commentary explores the work of social work in Ireland in addressing the impact of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) crisis on older people in general, and older people who have an enduring mental illness.

Last updated on hub: 21 December 2020

Social work’s role during and after the pandemic: keeping vigilant and hopeful on human rights

International Social Work

Editorial for this issue. COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, capturing attention and action in unprecedented ways. It has highlighted global inequalities and the political disjunctures between popularism and public health advice. The editorial suggests that social workers around the world are having to enter this storm to serve their communities and that ethical dilemmas abound as systems struggle to cope and access to resources tightens. Introduces the articles in this issue, where one paper provide insight into context of COVID-19 for social work (Truell, R.) and another considers globalisation and social work education (Flynn, S.).

Last updated on hub: 16 July 2020

Social worker wellbeing and working conditions: good practice toolkit

This toolkit is aimed at social workers in practice, social work supervisors, workforce development leads, managers, and leaders. It supports social workers to be more informed and empowered to look after themselves better at work; recognise when they need support and how to access it; develop knowledge and skills to influence their organisations; and know their rights and what they should expect from their employers. Improvements in working conditions and wellbeing for social workers require major developments in the quality and consistency of management, leadership, organisational culture, and employment practices. Readers with operational, workforce development and strategic responsibility for working conditions should use this toolkit to work together with staff to achieve shared vision and actions for change. The toolkit adopts an holistic and integrated approach, and as a result it includes key messages and signposting for all of the following people, parts of organisations and bodies providing support to social workers: social workers in direct practice; social work supervisors and practice leaders; teams and first line team leaders and managers; senior managers and organisational leaders; professional organisations/groups for social workers; and trade unions.

Last updated on hub: 22 February 2021

Social workers and the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness

Health and Social Work

Social workers serve as, and build, bridges between individuals, communities, and macro systems. Our work is traditionally conducted face-to-face and often even hand-in-hand. Most social workers meet the definition of “essential worker” and thus have continued working under most state distancing orders. However, the personal safety precautions prudent to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have forced many changes to how, where, and when social work happens. [...] In this column, I review the Biden–Harris seven-point plan to beat COVID-19. History will tell how we did in this moment, and it is crucial that social workers track progress along the way and right the course where necessary. [...] On January 21, 2021, they released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, a seven-point plan to beat COVID-19 and get our country back on track (Biden, 2021). In it, the president outlines a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century and presents an actionable plan across the federal government to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Our task as social workers will be to help implement, monitor, evaluate progress, and hold the administration accountable.

Last updated on hub: 05 July 2021

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