These are hands down stressful times for everyone. After all, we are essential workers. As essential workers, we social workers can really relate to this stress. During the past few months, the way we practise as social workers has changed drastically.
From in the trenches face-to-face meetings, providing live critical treatment to children and families, the way we do our work has taken a huge tectonic shift. Today, during the pandemic, my care largely comprised of teaching basic internet, teletherapy, and telepsychiatry to my clients, as well as educating them on how to stay connected to treatment at all costs.
Many of my families do not have assets. In many cases, these are families which are resource deprived. Thankfully, the Department of Education (DOE) has helped many of our families by providing iPads for the children to continue with therapy and their remote education. Despite all this, still, many families still struggle to connect with providers. My new role in connecting with families virtually and ensuring that all their services are still connected has been an ongoing challenge.
In this field we have emergency protocols in the event there is an acute risk of harm. Nothing has truly begun to prepare us for a worldwide pandemic. This sudden change shocked many of our families.
In addition to ensuring all my families’ are safe I also treat, under my care, another thirteen families with several unknown variables.
As a social worker I know my goal has been the same and which continues to be advocating for these families and support them in any way possible. My agency has been very supportive of my role during these hard times. In this sense, I have been able to assess families and provide them with resources such as gift cards for them to buy food.
Most of my work is done in the micro level, out in the field, and doing home visits or ‘face-to-face’ meetings with the families, visiting schools or therapist to ensure that the families are meeting their goals. That part has drastically changed due to the pandemic, now I have to continue to ensure that my families are still receiving such services but through a video conference or call. At the beginning the adjustments were very difficult for families and more so because we didn’t have that face to face contact where I could personally guide them through this process.
Since most of our work is done at the micro level (e.g., face to face interventions) out in the field, working remotely is something totally having to balance everything out has been as been difficult and stressful.
Self-care is even more essential now than than ever before. As a social worker, all too often, we put our client’s well-being ahead of our own. During unpredictable times, my stress level has been even higher.
I am an MSW student, intern and hard worker. There is no question I had to adjust to the new changes emerging in my field. From re arranging my schedule so I could fulfil all of my roles, to just taking a walk in the afternoon around my neighbourhood. The way I do things has shifted and been altered right down to the way I take 10 minutes to meditate. Yet, taking the time to do just that and breathe has been a tremendous help and a way I’ve been able to adjust my process to this new situation.
The changes from this pandemic were totally unexpected to the human services and allied fields. Ultimately, we are resilient. Working together, I am fully convinced this crisis will only embolden our mission and strengthen our skills further in the social work profession.