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Supporting social workers during COVID-19

Social worker talking to mother and children

A research project which looks at supporting social workers during the pandemic, has received funding from the OU’s Rapid Response to COVID-19 scheme.

The project, led by Joe Hanley, Lecturer in Social Work in the OU’s Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, proposes piloting the use of free, online continuing professional development (CPD) resources to rapidly upskill social workers in disaster social work response, including working during a pandemic.

The research is in partnership with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the University of Stirling and involves consolidating learning resources and making them accessible to social workers so that their online learning skills and health and wellbeing are enhanced so that they are better equipped to support the vulnerable communities with whom they work.

Joe Hanley said:

“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.

“While this project is mainly focused on supporting social workers, an improved social work response to the pandemic would improve the support for the often-marginalised communities social workers support.”

The Social Worker toolkit, which will be available in 2021, will build on existing CPD guidance led by Mr Hanley.

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