COVID-19 and Closure of Social Work Private Practice Clinics
The situation with COVID-19 is evolving daily. As of March 24, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health has 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.
Government and public health officials continue to advise of necessary public health measures, including physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Social workers engaged in private practice must continue to stay informed of measures that pertain to their work. Information and updates pertaining to COVID-19 can be accessed on the Government of NL website at https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/
As programs and services are being impacted, the delivery of services through technology may be a new phenomenon for many private practitioners. Information pertaining to electronic social work practice for currently registered social workers (RSWs) can be found at https://nlasw.ca/electronic_social_work_practice.
NLASW has also developed a frequently asked questions guide to assist private practitioners. This guide can be accessed by clicking here and will be updated frequently as issues and questions arise.
Private practice is defined as:
The provision of social work services, on a full time or part time basis, by a registered social worker who is self-employed, a member of a partnership/group practice, or independent contractor. Social workers in private practice are autonomous and responsible for the quality of social work services and ensuring compliance with the legislation, code of ethics and standards of practice. Services in private practice are provided on a fee for service model that is mutually agreed to by a client or third party (i.e., insurance company, employee assistance program, organization) or as set out in a contract.
Registered social workers in Newfoundland and Labrador are employed in diverse fields of practice and private practice continues to expand with social workers involved in a broad range of activities including, individual, couple, family and group therapy; assessments, education, facilitation and consultation, and responding to critical incidents and emergencies.
Social workers engaging in private practice must maintain active registration with NLASW and professional liability insurance. Special professional liability insurance rates are available through the Canadian Association of Social Workers.
NLASW also offers a voluntary roster for private practitioners. The voluntary roster is intended to increase public protection while promoting the private practice of social workers who meet the criteria of NLASW’s Private Practice Policy.
Apply for registration as a private practitioner.
Private Practice Roster
The roster is available for individuals wishing to engage the services of a social worker. Social workers listed here are registered with NLASW and meet the criteria for registration as a private practitioner.
Resource Guide for Private Practice
Private practice is a professional and business venture. As entrepreneurs, social workers in private practice need to consider all of the business aspects of running an independent practice that would normally be handled by an employer (i.e., accounting practices, tax remittances, rental agreements, insurance, record storage and security, fee schedules, administrative tasks, etc.).
Social workers considering private practice are encouraged to develop a business plan, implement accounting practices, seek clarification regarding HST exempt services from the Canada Revenue Agency, and obtain insurance and legal consultation as appropriate.
NLASW’s Private Practice Resource Guide identifies some of the ethical and professional practice considerations for social workers engaged in private practice.