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Social Workers brief MLAs on COVID-19 Challenges

Representatives from the British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland (BASW NI) have provided evidence to the Northern Ireland Assembly Health Committee on the key issues impacting social workers, and those who use social work services, during the coronavirus pandemic.

BASW NI's National Director, Carolyn Ewart, and Public Affairs and Communications Officer, Andy McClenaghan, outlined members' views on new Regulations proposed by the Department for Health which will deliver temporary modifications allowing social work providers flexibility to operate in the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also highlighted the challenges the profession has faced over recent weeks concerning a lack of Government guidance on home visits and a lack of clarity concerning the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by social workers.

Speaking following the briefing session Ms Ewart said: "I'm pleased the Committee for Health has taken time to consider the needs of the social work profession and the interests of the many vulnerable people social workers support during this time of crisis. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of attention has centred on the impacts on health services with surge planning largely focused on ensuring adequate hospital capacity for treating COVID-19 patients. While necessary steps have been taken to ensure social work services continue to meet need at this time, it is expected that the impacts for social work will follow in a series of surges as we move out of lockdown."

Commenting on specific areas of need identified by Committee members during the session, Ms Ewart said: 'We know that under lockdown, problems concerning mental health will increase and incidents of child abuse and neglect, as well as domestic violence, will rise. It is therefore essential the Northern Ireland Executive plans for, and allocates adequate resources, to meet the expected increase in demand for social work services in the weeks, months and years ahead. 


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Andy McClenaghan, Public Affairs and Communications Officer, mobile: 07702 517560

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