Reflective Essay On Covid-19 Pandemic And Social Work Practice
Before the pandemic, life was advancing and moving on faster than ever. There was a time and place for everything whether it was attending university lectures or visiting placement. Now that the pandemic has arrived, life changed drastically and it became limiting. Everything outside our homes came to a stand-still and it has completely changed the way society will now work and operate. I have realised because of this pandemic that it will never be the same, and that social distancing has to become a new normal. This new normal is not only to be safe from Covid-19, but to also operate effectively and safely within social institutions of our society.
Many frontline workers have had to re-assess how they work in practice, when out on visits to minimise the risk of catching Covid-19 and also spreading it. Under the Care Act 2014 Social Workers have a duty to provide care, make assessments, meet needs and provide care plans. On March the 31st, 2020 The Coronavirus Act was produced by the Health Secretary. One of the sections from the Coronavirus Act 2020 included some significant changes, to how the local authorities operate under the Care Act 2014. Incite insights.doughtstreet. The Secretary of State released some guidelines on when and how Local Authorities can use the new Care Act adjustments. The Coronavirus Act 2020 postpones majority of the roles and duties which are carried out under the Care Act 2014 during the crisis. This affects how Social Workers comply with The Care Act when it comes to assessing and planning appropriate intervention for adequate protection and support. (Care Act 2014, 2020) (Care Act easements: guidance for local authorities, 2020).
The Coronavirus Act responds to the difficulty within the health sector of the rising demand and reduced capacity’ management that the virus can cause. This is because more individuals are falling ill, therefore there are fewer individuals to take care of them and there will be fewer Social workers to fill the essential roles. (The Coronavirus Act 2020 and Social Work Practice – A Briefing, 2020). This causes a direct impact on the legal changes which will have an effect on social work practice. For example, some legal changes are being made to increase the number of social workers into the occupation, as crucial roles need to be filled.
Under section 9 of the Care Act 2014 local authorities must assess if any adult appears that they may have needs for care and support. (Care Act 2014, 2020). (McCabe, 2020). Many Social Workers may struggle with this, as to physically investigate clients on what needs they have, would be extremely difficult in order to maintain safe social distancing and some may not be able to carry out a proper assessment as a result of not being able to go out on visits to initiate these assessment. Furthermore, the assessments aren’t communicated in face to face manner with service users as much as before. Pysically assessing people’s mental and physical state, wellbeing would be very limiting as to how much a social worker can review. The usage of electronic means of communicating would instead rely more on word of mouth from the service users through using digital ways to communicate. This could negatively affect some clients if they are unable or struggle to speak as honestly and openly about their wellbeing, safety, health, mental and physical state as they could miss something crucial out that the social worker can’t notice if they were physically there.
This would affect how reliable the assessments made are, and the flexibility to do follow ups. It must be difficult for social workers to see if their clients are being looked after properly and if basic needs are met, due to the restriction when out on visits in the community. As a result some Social Workers may feel, limited, restricted and unable to give full attention and support in their work and with their clients.
As part of section 18 under the Care Act 2014 it enforces a duty on local authorities to meet an eligibility criteria. Under section 18 they also have a duty to prepare a care and support plan including details about how the service user’s needs will be met. All care plans must be preserved under analysis by local authorities and adapted if an individual’s care and support needs have changed. (McCabe, 2020), (Care Act 2014, 2020).
As Social Workers work for the Local Authority they will be greatly affected when applying some of these key core duties from the Care Act 2014. (McCabe, 2020). Some Social workers may experience some changes in the work place and may feel fearful as there is a lack of information and confusion as a result of how rapidly things are changing. Social Work practitioners will find that it is essential to adapt agreed assessment arrangement to prioritise care so that most urgent needs are met. (Care Act easements: guidance for local authorities, 2020). This has made me realise under the powers of the Act it is a matter of what is necessary rather than what is possible under the Care Act as meeting care needs is now only a matter of priority and urgency for needs to be met effectively and safely.
Some Social workers may feel under pressure and stress because they may not able to go deep into their work. This could lead to lack of fulfilment that enough has been done when carrying out their work to help clients, especially when attempting to comply with assessments and applying government changes under restriction of Covid-19 guidelines as well as requirements from the Care Act.
This could make it tough for social workers when dealing with lack of resources and restriction or feeling less useful because due to not able to work as effectively with the community in the same way as before the pandemic. Social distancing is very important in the long run but it is important to understand what is in the best interest of our communities and their clients. It is a matter of supporting others enough to feel secure and supported to connect as social workers normally would with their clients.
Social Work uses theory to recognise the perplexity of human interaction and their surroundings as well as the quantity of individuals who are most likely to be affected by and what would change and adapt. Social Work as a profession, relies on theories of human behaviour and development and social structure to evaluate complex situations; to improve individual, social, cultural and organisational changes. (5 Social Work Theories That Inform Practice, 2020)
Systems theory describes how behaviour is influenced through a range of factors that work together as a system. An individual’s friends, school, parents, home environment, social class and other factors influence how an individual acts, thinks and behaves. The role of a social worker would be to seek to help, correct missing or inefficient parts that can affect positive behaviour. In a school setting, a Social Worker can visit the child for a 1 on 1 session to assess how their systems are working together, observing and analysing what needs to change, improve and what is going well to continue that support. School can be more of a safe space for the child to be open and honest about their how each of their systems are affecting their situations such as school and home life. (Directed Study, 2020)
Targeting elements of a system within the child such as learning, and physical welfare needs being met reinforces positive change and behaviour. For example the social worker may ensure that the child is aware of Covid-19 advice and guidelines to keep them safe and protected from the virus to learn and apply at home as well. Positive interactions between the child, the social worker and social environments at school affects the cognitive ability which increases positive social stimulation with peers and staff and encouragement when accomplishing tasks in these settings will enable the child to reach their potential through aspiration and value.(5 Social Work Theories That Inform Practice, 2020) (Directed Study, 2020)
Social learning theory explores how an individual learns and behaves through imitation or modelling. It is a way of learning complex sequences of behaviour through observation of others and imitating them. This is most important for children learning specific behaviours. In Social Work practice, strategies can be put in place to aim at changing a behaviour. For instance, a family social worker advising a child’s carer/parent to teach children to copy and imitate good behaviour such as washing hands to prevent the Coronavirus infection and to reward the behaviour to promote it more, i.e washing hands means they have done a good job. As well as decreasing bad behaviour to change it such as; instructing the child to not touch the face and mouth and to be careful to ensure they aren’t standing too close to people when outside. (Cognative and behavourial theories, 2020)(5 Social Work Theories That Inform Practice, 2020)
This relates to BASW PCF knowledge section 5-Knowledge which states to develop and apply relevant knowledge from research, social work practice, which includes theory. Developing professional knowledge and maintaining interest is key throughout social work careers. I can see through studying theory, that it is necessary to develop a core knowledge that relates to purpose, ethics and values. Specific knowledge from a theorised approach is needed during practice to develop my roles throughout social work. I aim to use my knowledge from theory to apply it in social work practice to meet the PCF where it states knowledge comes from practice and theory amongst other things. The PCF that has helped me to understand how distinctive knowledge, through theory compliments other disciplines to provide effective services. (BASW PCF 2020).
I aim to demonstrate original understanding when it comes to applying research, knowledge and evidence from theory, and others relevant fields, how it effects human growth and development and the relation to experiences of people who use services. The PCF also states the importance of demonstrating initial understanding of theories and models for social work intervention. This includes required knowledge specific to practice during placement through work-based learning.
From studying theory such as systems theory and how that affects service users; I can challenge my understanding of how each one relates to another, in practice during placement. (BASW PCF 2020)
Because of Covid-19 there are many vulnerable victims of domestic abuse who are highly impacted in terms of their safety and wellbeing, due to becoming socially isolated. The Coronavirus pandemic is concerning for victims and vulnerable people. This is because of the stay-at home measures having a serious impact on domestic abuse victims and increased liability for perpetrators.(Tackling domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020)
Isolation guidelines for families could increase the severity of domestic abuse, because perpetrators are highly likely to be alone with the victim in the home and usual measurements that provide vital support and a safe space for help such as schools, workplaces and GPs may be closed. This makes it harder for Social Workers to communicate with other professionals from Schools, GPs and workplaces to access any alarming information that may be crucial to vulnerable victims like they normally would before the pandemic. (Tackling domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020)
As a result, there is risk of miscommunication and poor use of working in partnership. This relates to Values and Ethics as part of BASW PCF Framework Social Workers must demonstrate skills in the sensitive exploration of issues of privacy, confidentiality and sharing information in unsafe complicated situations and have a duty to offer advise and to assist colleagues when managing these issues. It is important for all Social Workers to promote human rights and social justice to oblige and conduct themselves in decisions according to the Code of Ethics in order to fully support all people that they work with. (BASW PCF 2020).
Isolation has meant that there have been less opportunities for vulnerable citizen’s that display early warning signs of domestic abuse. As a result of the emergency response to the pandemic of Covid-19, this has increased and worsened the rate and severity of domestic abuse. Social Workers are likely to be affected by this and how they operate in practice when on duty to visit vulnerable individuals whether it’s children or adults. I can imagine that it would be more difficult to manage the impact domestic abuse has on victims for social workers as they always have a duty to protect and safeguard all individuals that they work with.
The BASW Framework PCF section 7 for Skills and Interventions states that initial awareness of risks and safeguarding are to be demonstrated and experienced Social Workers must undertake assessment and planning for safe-guarding in difficult cases, and helping other professionals with safeguarding skills. (BASW PCF 2020).
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