COVID-19 AND IMPACT ON SOCIAL WORK SERVICES
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on individuals, families, groups and communities. Social workers understand that this pandemic can exacerbate issues for those individuals in our communities who are dealing with mental health concerns, addictions issues, poverty, homelessness, and violence. Many services and psychosocial supports are still required in the provision of health and social services.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health continues to issue public health orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Social workers in all fields of practice should be familiar with these directives and follow them accordingly. For the latest information and directives, please visit https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/. Additional trusted and credible sources of information are also listed below.
Social workers must use professional judgement, in consultation with their employing organizations, on how essential services will be continued or modified, and which services will be reduced or suspended in keeping with public health directives. Clear communication with clients on how services are being impacted and what services are available is important.
Where social work services are continued, virtual care is recommended where possible. This may include services delivered through electronic mediums (i.e., telephone, on-line, video). Information pertaining to electronic social work practice can be found below. Social workers should also be familiar with the NLASW Standards for Technology Use in Social Work Practice and follow the standards accordingly.
In person service delivery if urgent or required, would depend on the employment/practice setting and the client population. Social workers providing in person services are advised to take all the necessary precautions in keeping with public health measures as outlined by the Chief Medical Officer of Health including the completion of a thorough risk assessment, physical distancing, and hand hygiene. Seeking information from trusted websites on how to protect oneself against COVID-19 is recommended. This includes the Government of NL, Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization.
To stay up to date on information relevant to social work practice, please visit this page as well as the CASW website regularly. Information continues to be updated frequently in response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
Solidarity, compassion, and self-care….these are important as we move forward in addressing this pandemic and ensuring the health and well-being of ourselves and the individuals, families and communities throughout this province.
Electronic Social Work Services
As programs and services are impacted by COVID-19, questions around electronic social work services continue to emerge. The electronic social work practice section on our website contains information for both social workers and clients -
A self-assessment guide is also available to help social workers evaluate their practices in relation to informed consent. This guide contains user friendly checklists that social workers can use in designing an informed consent template. A checklist focused on technology use as it pertains to informed consent is included. The guide can be accessed by clicking here.
BMS, exclusive broker for the CASW’s Professional Liability Insurance Program, has also developed helpful resources regarding electronic practice including:
- COVID-19: Virtual Health Care Services Ensuring Continuity of Care
- Consent to Use Electronic Communications Template
- Ethical Issues for Regulated Health Professionals in the Era of COVID-19
COVID-19 and Closure of Social Work Private Practice Clinics
On March 24, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health ordered the closing of all private health clinics, with the exception of physician and nurse practitioner clinics. This includes social work private practices. As per the directive, if a clinician is required to provide urgent or emergent care, they may open their office only to provide those services. Virtual care, when possible, is being recommended at this time.
Social workers engaged in private practice must continue to stay informed of measures that pertain to their work.
COVID-19 & Social Work Practice - Frequently Asked Questions
In response to member inquiries, a FAQ document has been developed. It can be accessed by clicking here. It is a living document and will be updated as needed.
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) NL
The OIPC has developed a slide deck, "Don't Blame Privacy – What To Do and How To Communicate in an Emergency" to inform public bodies and custodians about information collection, use and disclosure in emergency situations. It can be accessed by clicking here.
Mental Health Resources
There are various resources available to help protect your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Mental Health Crisis Line (24 Hours): 1-888-737-4668
- Crisis Text Line: Text Talk to 686868
- CHANNAL Peer Support Warmline (9 am to 12 am): 1-855-753-2560
- Doorways Program - for hours of operation call 752-4903
- Managing Stress During the Pandemic
- Strategies for Building Psychological Resilience
- Self-care for Social Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic (Podcast)
- World Health Organization Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19
Sources of Information regarding COVID-19:
Please consult the following websites for the latest information:
- Government of NL
- Regional Health Authorities
- Health Canada
- Canadian Association of Social Workers
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- World Health Organization