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

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Abstract

The coronavirus (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 article reports on qualitative interviews with fourteen front line 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 self-care, 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
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Early online date13 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the University of Ulster and the Doctoral Training Alliance as a recipient of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie PhD Fellowship Programme. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 801604.

Keywords

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

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