Social Dialogue Magazine
article 16 main image
article 16 author image

Lena Dominelli, Chair of the IASSW Disaster Intervention, Climate Change and Sustainability Committee.

Guidelines for Social Workers During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Social workers, social care workers, and welfare assistants will be continuing to work with the public during the Covid-19 pandemic. What principles can help them work in anti-oppressive ways while protecting their own health and that of service users so as to ensure that the corona virus is not spread by them, especially to vulnerable others. Most of the skills that social workers have will be relevant even here. These include:

Here, I want to focus on additional issues that you ought to consider. These require you to be extra vigilant, particularly in spotting vulnerabilities while looking for strengths and capabilities to build upon; being critically reflective, including of your own practice; being on the look out for the impact of social issues such as poverty, discriminatory practices and substance misuse; knowing what resources are available among individuals, families and communities (do this by obtaining a community profile and identifying available resources and gaps before you leave your office where possible); and knowing how to access alternative resources; referring service users to other agencies; training and looking after volunteers who support you; and obtaining training and supervision so that you can do your job to the best of your ability.

Uncertain territory

The Covid-19 virus is new, and there are not many guidelines that have been tested in place. So, we are entering unknown and uncertain territory. In these circumstances, it is important we learn from each other including those from overseas, and use our reflective, critical and innovative capacities to check out what others say and improvise new solutions in a coproduced way that are tailored to our locality specific circumstances and are culturally relevant to the setting. Below are some points you may wish to consider if you are doing home visits, agency visits or going anywhere else to deliver services to those requiring them:

People may be having problems getting grocery shopping, so take your thermos flask with you so that you can say you have/had a drink when invited to have one. Shopping might be an issue for some service users, so getting adequately protected and trained volunteers may help with such tasks. If taking food into people’s homes, make sure you use disposable gloves and dispose of them once you return to your car. A new pair should be used for each household. Keep hand sanitizers in your car for immediate use too. Keep a bin bag handy.

Finally, stay calm, stay safe, and keep your social distance.

f you have suggestions based on your experience and wish to share these, please contact me at: [email protected]

Thank you!

‘Sharing Our Stories: Making Visible Social Work’s Contribution to the Covid-19 Outbreak

Social work educators, researchers, students, and practitioners are often the unsung heroes in any disaster. IASSW knows that many in the profession have worked tirelessly, often at great risk to themselves given the lack of protective clothing, to safeguard human well-being, children and older people in this corona virus pandemic. Nearly every country is affected, and IASSW thinks that it is important to collect our stories so that we can share them and learn from each other. To this end, IASSW is calling on all those in the profession who wish to, to send in their stories of the work they have done to support others survive Covid-19, and hopefully, ultimately thrive. These stories would initially be shared through the IASSW website – you can write in your own language, and ultimately, we might be able to get a publisher interested in a publication. Please write in with your stories. Thank you.