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How my practice changed during COVID-19

In this guest blog, Lynn, a senior children’s social worker, reflects on how coronavirus and lockdown has changed the way she works.

How my practice changed during the COVID-19 pandemic

8/6/2020 10:00:00 AM

In an ongoing series of guest blogs, people from a range of backgrounds share their lived and learned experiences of current social work practice. In this guest blog, Lynn, a senior children’s social worker from the Sheffield area, reflects on how coronavirus and lockdown has changed the way she works.

What have people with lived experience taught you during the pandemic?

People with lived experience have taught me that good can come from difficult situations. Also, to live in the moment. I am a planner and I’ve learned to stop planning. People have responded in different ways:

For some, “welcome to my world”. Living with uncertainty, restrictions on movement and choice, barriers that were not there before, life feeling like a fight and battle. Living with fear and anxiety. Often fear of the unknown.

For others, “I felt safe in lockdown”. They had a reason not to go out, to feel this fear. Home was safe. The pressure was off school attendance and punctuality. Children were being bullied at school and struggling with work and so were happier at home. Anxiety was reduced because choices were taken away.

For others, “What lockdown?”. Life was no different, other than some places being shut. They were still seeing friends, family and community.

 

Do you feel like social workers are getting more public recognition during the pandemic?

Social work is barely mentioned on the news and often missed out of ‘key worker’ roles. Social care in the media usually refers to those providing direct personal care, not social workers supporting families in need. As an NHS worker, my ID badge gets me discounts and to the front of the queue at some supermarkets. My social work ID does not do this!

I feel valued by the community, the government and the public as an NHS worker. There has been an increased focus on mental health and my other role as a counsellor feels more valued than before. On the other hand, social workers aren’t feeling more valued for offering more support with increased referrals for issues like domestic abuse.

 

Can you give any examples of the way you’ve had to change your practice during the pandemic?

One of the main reasons I recently returned to frontline practice was to be office-based and part of a team. Due to lockdown, I started my new job with social distancing, doorstep visits and limited opportunities for shadowing. All my induction training and meetings were online. I have had to learn how to do assessments by phone and video call.

 

What do you think will be the main challenges for social workers after the pandemic?

On a day to day basis, the challenge will be working out how much of our role will stay virtual. In the short term, the challenge will be working with families to help them readjust, especially with seeking support and school attendance after the holidays. The longer-term impact will be on the mental health and relationships of children and families.

 

What’s the best thing about being a social worker?

Building relationships with others, trying to make a difference in outcomes for children and families and supporting others to do this. Being part of a team and having a national collective identity. There is scope for career development and progression within social work, there are many roles and opportunities.

 

What’s the most challenging thing about being a social worker?

Tasks are never finished. Social work is a process that is fluid and evolving. People, relationships, and interactions are not static. The forms, databases and requirements for recording do not often reflect the reality of the work. People do not fit into boxes and timescales.

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