Remote service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic: Questioning the impact of technology on relationship-based social work practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread lockdowns, social distancing measures, restrictions to businesses and the closure of buildings. During this time social workers were required to adjust to remote practice, adopting technological adjuncts for continued engagement with service users. This paper reports on qualitative interviews with 14 frontline social workers practicing during the pandemic in Northern Ireland, exploring the impact of remote delivery and technology on relationship-based practice. Findings highlight negative outcomes on relationship building and social worker selfcare, alongside concerns that efficiency would be prioritised over future face-to-face contact with service users. The adoption of alternative methods of communication through technology has disrupted the core principles of relationship-based practice and has meant that, without proper planning or staff training, alternative models of delivery which may have enabled some form of continuation and centralisation of relationship-based practice are under explored and require further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Social work
  • Covid-19
  • Relationship based practice
  • Technology
  • Remote practice

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