Themes and Insights – Social Work in the time of Covid-19

Your participation over this, the last week of our 6 week research study has helped us build a picture of your experiences during this Covid-19 pandemic.  Our survey and telephone interviews will continue over the coming weeks so that we can map how things change as the pandemic progresses and continue to share key insights with you each week.

A full and in-depth report will be available at the conclusion of this study, but in the meantime, we share with you a snapshot of the key themes and ideas that have emerged over the past week that we hope you will find interesting and helpful.  We welcome your contributions in the comments box below.

For our Week 1 Snapshot click here

For our Week 2 Snapshot click here

For our Week 3 Snapshot click here

For our Week 4 Snapshot click here

For our Week 5 Snapshot click here

For our Week 6 Snapshot click here

Ways of Working Creating Barriers to Practice

  • Quality of social work practice measured by outputs and KPIs rather than on outcomes.

  • The development of practice needs the involvement and engagement with peers in a team which is missing with remote working.

  • The increased volume of administrative requirements of social work practice having a negative impact on the relational aspect of the role.

  • Questioning whether Social workers are spending their time on the right things during the crisis.

  • Increased in administration requirements reducing capacity for working with families.

Disconnect with Social Work Practice  

  • Working remotely leading to a loss in the relational aspect of social work and disconnect with what brought people into the profession.

  • For newly appointed social workers, the lack of physical team presence and support impacts on confidence, motivation and professional identity.

  • Conclusive statements on the limitations of remote work and video calls, and importance of non-verbal data to see the full picture.

  • Sense of disconnection with the real ‘heart’ of social work.

Exit Strategy and the Need for Clarity

  • Learning to adapt and accept the lack of clarity will be how things are in the long term.

  • The emotional challenge of continuously working with uncertainty.

  • Government’s lack of clarity and poor role-modelling.

  • The importance of forward planning for example for families during the summer holiday period.

  • Uncertainty and confusion around timeframes and new guidelines in light of decreasing infection risks and lifting of lockdown.

  • The fear that lack of clarity results in individual level interpretation and decision-making.

  • Fear of exiting lockdown too fast and without adequate planning and engagement.

  • Perception of ‘noise’ from all levels of leadership, clouded by central government scandals.

New Levels of Empowerment and Autonomy

  • Conclusions that much of a SW role can be done remotely and from home

  • Question whether distancing of leadership is intentional in response to more autonomy, or because guidance and information from above them is so limited.

  • Some SWs report experiencing higher levels of genuine support from managers, while others have had to step up and ensure their own wellbeing for themselves and their colleagues

  • Calls for ensuring we don’t revert to old ways of working

Innovations reported this week.

  • System to buy data for smart phones for clients who don’t want /cannot use their data allowance on a video-call.

  • A new RAG risk assessment system for COVID-19.

  • Support for families throughout the period with virtual support groups and webinars.

  • Virtual information evenings for prospective adopters.

  • Virtual initial visits with prospective adopters.

  • Discovered prospective adopters’ motivation has been influenced by the pandemic. It has given them time and space to reassess what is important in life.

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