Most Social Workers entered the profession for a simple reason: They want to help people. Their caring and empathetic natures make them deeply passionate about their work – and predisposed to blur the lines between the professional and personal. Commendable though their motives are, it can be difficult to manage during times when their ability to meet the needs they see around them is limited, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the virus has gained ground, Social Workers across Australia have been instructed to work from home and avoid the face-to-face connection that is so vital for their vulnerable clients. And with no clear path forward, it’s no wonder that many Social Workers are struggling to reconcile these restrictions with their dedication to their jobs, and are understandably tempted to put themselves at risk to care for others.
To aid you in balancing your desire to help with your own safety and the limitations in which you must work, keep these tips in mind:
Help Out Where You Can
As a Social Worker, meeting needs is in your veins, but it’s important not to let your desire to help make you feel that you need to do it all. Instead, try to be realistic and think about the support you can provide safely, whether that be delivering meals to the vulnerable or being available to offer support and advice over the phone. And remember, don’t be too hard on yourself – no matter how small you feel your contribution is, we can guarantee it’s making a big difference to those who need it!
The nature of the pandemic means that things are changing constantly, and leaders are having to make rapid decisions around issues such as client privacy and the types of services that will be available. Make it a priority to keep up-to-date with current news, developments and updates to professional guidelines so that you have all the information you need to do your job well. Consulting Australian government websites and your professional association is a good place to start.
Take a Long-Term View
When faced with so many restrictions around how you can work, it’s easy to become discouraged or blinded by the limitations of the present. However, taking a long-term view is essential for staying positive and motivated in these difficult times. While you may not be able to provide certain services right now, you can still plan for the future and do what you can to be ready when things improve.
In order to look after others, you need to first look after yourself, which is why self-care is a vital practice for any Social Worker, and even more so during challenging, high-stress times like the current pandemic. This means not only maintaining your physical health, but your mental wellbeing as well. We have put together a resource to help you when developing your self-care routine – click here to read it.
One of the things COVID-19 has taught us is the importance of human connection, whether it be colleagues, family or friends. However, what we talk about and how we talk about it is just as important as the connection itself. It’s OK to acknowledge the negatives, but try not to dwell on them. When you reach out to others, make it a point to look for the positives and focus on the things you can control – both you and those around you will be much better for it.
As we navigate these chaotic, uncertain times, Social Workers’ willingness to look beyond themselves and go the extra mile is invaluable, but it’s also important that you recognise your limitations and prioritise your own health and wellbeing. In the midst of the pandemic, we hope these tips help you gain a fresh perspective and achieve the balance you need.