Social Work Safety

Updates

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Worker Safety & Health During COVID-19 Pandemic: Rights & Resources

The National Employment Law Project is providing this policy toolkit for workers, their advocates and allies, and policymakers to help ensure that workers are protected.

COVID-19: Practice Guidelines for Reopening Social Work Practices

NASW offers guidance on resuming the provision of in-person services, for solo practitioners as well as those in group practices.

NASW urges Congress, White House to include funding for personal protective equipment for social workers in next funding package

“Social workers are essential workers on the front lines providing much-needed mental health care in-person in numerous settings, ranging from hospitals to nursing facilities to family homes. They are also instrumental in attending to the social needs of patients that must be addressed to help ensure recovery, such as access to nutritional food, reliable transportation and safe housing. To perform these functions at the highest possible level, worker safety must be a priority,” said Angelo McClain, Ph.D, LICSW, Chief Executive Officer of NASW.

If You Have a Private Practice

  • Cleaning and hygiene: Follow CDC guidelines on cleaning and hygiene protocols for your workplace.
  • Communication: Let your clients know through multiple channels that you are aware of COVID-19 and measures you are implementing to keep your office as safe as possible (e.g. cleaning, arrangement of furniture, cancellation policy flexibility to reduce exposures from ill or potentially ill clients).
  • Management: Identify someone who can run the key business operations in the event of a disruption to your operations such that you will need support.
  • Finances: Ensure that you have sufficient reserves to cover expenses if you have a decline in revenue.
  • Teletherapy: Some clients (or you) may prefer to provide services via teletherapy for a period of time. If you do not currently provide services in this manner, check with your payers to verify that they will reimburse for services provided this way. See NASW’s technology standards for guidance. Review your malpractice insurance policy regarding provisions around teletherapy and where it is provided (for example, from your home in the event that you cannot use your office due to any quarantine or containment requirements in your area).

Preventive Measures

The CDC recommends the following to avoid spreading COVID-19:

  • Stay home when you are sick with influenza-like illness.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Keep frequently touched common surfaces clean, i.e., telephones, computer equipment, etc.
  • Do not use other workers’ phones, desks, office, or other work tools and equipment; if necessary, consider cleaning them first with a disinfectant.

See Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Homes and Residential Communities (CDC, Feb. 14, 2020)

What else can you do?

As social workers, we are guided by the core values of service to community, social justice and the dignity and worth of every person. We practice with integrity and competence. Social work professionals must be an active participant in the community response to emerging public health crises.

We can:

  • Actively participate in public and private health care policy and planning bodies to ensure that clients receive necessary and appropriate care with the guarantee of confidentiality and patient rights protections.
  • Learn from history and take lessons from the fears and misinformation of HIV/AIDS to better understand and confront the stigma and discrimination of persons perceived as being more at risk for transmitting coronavirus, such as people of Asian descent.
  • Implement programs to educate colleagues and allied providers on the facts about the coronavirus.
  • Know community resources and share information with clients and colleagues.
  • Across fields of practice, the coronavirus epidemic will call upon social workers to utilize the bio-psychosocial approach as we apply our training and skills to engage, support, and advocate for our clients, patients, and the larger communities in which we work and live.

Telehealth

NASW is advocating to ensure access to clinical social work services during the coronavirus pandemic, including via video conference.

Learn about telehealth


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Join the Conversation

MyNASW is our online community where NASW members are discussing their challenges and solutions for practicing during the coronavirus pandemic.

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