A project has been funded by the OU to provide free continual professional development (CPD) resources for keyworkers during the pandemic.
The project, titled ‘CPD for Social Workers’, has been piloting the use of free, online CPD resources, used to rapidly upskill social workers in disaster social work response, including working during a pandemic.
Joe Hanley, Lecturer in Social Work, launched the project in collaboration with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), the University of Stirling, and The Open University's Institute of Educational Techchnology (IET).
Discussing the motivations in conducting the research, Joe Hanley, Project Lead and Lecturer in Social Work as part of the central academic team in the OU, stated:
"Social workers have been essential keyworkers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response. However, as in previous disasters, social workers have experienced numerous challenges in responding to the pandemic, including a lack of contingency planning and training, difficulty being flexible within strict statutory contexts and disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations."
In reference to the challenges social workers have experienced during the pandemic, an open survey by the British Association of Social Workers has received feedback from over 1,200 social workers to raise issues relating to safety and effective practice with government, regulators and employers.
Adding further, Joe Hanley stated:
"The resources are targeted towards social workers and social work students, but should impact all social workers who are called on to provide support during a disaster and improve their ability to respond to disasters in the future."