Every March, the BC Association of Social Workers celebrates the integral role of social workers to the health and well-being of individuals and society. This year, nationally and provincially, the association shining a light on the essential work of social workers, in particular as we consider the implications of COVID-19 and the invaluable contributions social workers make in this context.
This year the BCASW Northern Branch is virtually celebrating Social Work Week with daily programming including TikToks, a Bridget Moran documentary, and professional development webinars. To see the schedule of activities, search for our Facebook Page: BC Association of Social Workers – Northern Branch.
Social workers are trained professionals with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. They are integral professionals in the health, social care, and community development systems. You will find social workers throughout society protecting children from abuse and neglect; facilitating patient-centred care and care planning in hospitals and public health clinics; offering therapy and case management in mental health services; supporting inmate reintegration into society; enhancing student mental and emotional well-being in schools; leading non-profits, and offering private practice services, for example. Social workers support individual, families, groups, and communities to enhance their strengths, introduce resources, and remove systemic and other barriers to support well-being. Social workers often work with some of the most vulnerable in society who face illness, grief and loss, homelessness, poverty, abuse, discrimination, and/or trauma. Almost everyone in society will receive the support of a social worker at some time in his or her lives.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, social workers have been on the frontlines along with doctors, nurses, grocery store staff, and other essential employees. Social workers see the challenges many clients, often the most vulnerable, have been facing with the increased constraints in face-to-face service provision and the limitations and restrictions on resources as a part of public health and safety policies. Hospital social workers have been offering increasing emotional support to inpatients and their families as their inter-professional colleagues work hard to attending to their physical health needs. They recognize that one’s health care journey cannot be done alone. They advocate for essential visitors to attend to family members, facilitate telephone and video communication between patients and family, and continue to work on discharge planning into community. School and child protection social workers have gone to great lengths to ensure the well-being, safety, and security of children and their families during a global pandemic.
In this year of uncertainty, when called upon social workers took to the streets or to hospitals’ hallways. They have found quiet moments to be still with those who are grieving or struggling. They have walked beside those suffering alone. They recognize the limitations and challenges with virtual care for some of the most vulnerable in our society. They listened first, and then heeded the calls for better systems and supports. Social workers have taken a stand against racism, injustice, and oppression. All the while, many did so as they considered risk to themselves or their families as they donned protective gear and stepped in health care settings, into homes, or onto the streets to offer services.