In the eye of the storm: Pandemic social work during COVID-19 in long-term care Ontario.
Pandemic affected all social work practice areas and allowed us to uncover multiple extreme inequities in service delivery for vulnerable populations. In summer 2020, during the first global offering of the pandemic social work course at Thompson Rivers University, a practicing social worker from one of Ontario’s Long Term Care Home, Candace Hind, visited our class. What was initially scheduled to be a short overview of social work practice in long term care during pandemic became a four-hour presentation on the challenges long term care social workers face on multiple levels of practice. There is a shortage of social workers in long-term care. Not enough PPE, inadequate response from the Government of Ontario, “military savour operation” instead of having adequately trained professionals with adequate resources providing critical services to Canadian seniors. We listened to stories of resilience, teachings 100 years old Canadians shared with us through Candace quotes. It was always powerful, sometimes it was frightening, but we needed to hear social work perspective to think about future actions. Candace shared with us a new assessment tool developed to identify residents’ needs in pandemic and changes in how we practice in times of physical distancing. The need to reform current long-term care in Canada is critical to allow residents to live life with dignity before, during and after the pandemic. We learn that social workers went from being considered non-essential to essential workers of long term care. We had an active discussion throughout the lecture. It was a unique opportunity to connect literature to everyday practice.
In October 2020 we decided to record the presentation as part of the Voices Social Work (VSW) project. Those “AHA” moments pandemic social work students experience in June now can be shared with the broader community and bring necessary changes to long term service provision in Canada and globally. I will keep adding more Youtube links to this post so everyone who reads it can learn about ageing as a continuum of care and how “silence” was an initial response when the pandemic was announced on what happened next. The chronology of changes and policy responses. The first positive COVID experience. The stigma frontline workers face in providing care on who will be considered essential and who is not. The recordings are influential. I am incredibly grateful for Candace to share the time, so we will remember what it means to provide services during a pandemic and the critical role social workers play in the global public health emergency.
Part 1 of the lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCbBCcDYY-U covers a period from March 11, 2020 when WHO declared global pandemic to April 9 when the first COVID-19 positive case was recorded in the long term care where Candace was working, and social worker role was moved from being essential to being a critical service provider. Please feel free to share the recording with social work students, practitioners and everyone who want to promote necessary changes to ensure that every Canadian in long-term care is supported by a social worker to receive the best possible service in pandemic and beyond.
Part 2 of the lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIUJwqgQYMg focus on how social work role was changed from essential to critical. Candace Hind will share the change happened on April 9, 2020 when the first positive case was recorded in the long term care. Candace shared how safety plans were developed and what worked and what did not work and the critical role of the social worker during lockdown. Very passionate part of the lecture and lots of learning point on why social workers are required to be present in every long term care.
Part 3 of the lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xot8OOt7vA8 summarizes key learning points and provide an overview on what happened in one of the Ontario’s long term care facility after first outbreak and how social worker role was changing to respond to the needs of the residents. Candace offered three key lessons every student who plan to work in long term care need to learn. A great way to summarize the lecture and highlight the social worker role in long term care during pandemic March-June 2020.