Any social worker working as part of an essential service and/or who is working from home must continue to work to provide safe, competent professional services based on the requirements of both the ANZASW Code of Ethics & Practice Standards and the SWRB Code of Conduct & Core Competencies. These documents underpin professional social work practice.
Working from home presents particular challenges. Social workers who are working from home must make every effort to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the people accessing social work services.
Professional reflective supervision becomes all the more important when working in challenging times. Both professionals and the people they work with are facing multiple stressors and change. Social workers may be working in fields that they are not fully familiar with, at the edges of their scope. It is expected that regular supervision will continue, albeit that it may be by phone or video call. Social workers are also encouraged to actively seek additional supervision between regular sessions as needed. The Code of Ethics has the requirement that “We commit to professional supervision to ensure that our practice is both ethical and safe, to enhance our professional development and maintain personal well-being”.
We advise social workers to ensure that any written or electronic record they make notes that the intervention occurred during the Covid-19 lockdown.
USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
In the Covid-19 environment many of you will be using one or more of the many forms of social media to engage with the people you are working with. Both the ANZASW Code of Ethics and the SWRB Code of Conduct provide guidance on the professional use of digital technology and social media.
Social media are internet technologies that allow people to connect, communicate and interact in real time to share and exchange information. This includes Facebook, blogs, Twitter, email groups and instant messaging, and encompasses text, photographs, images, video or audio files. (1)
Electronic communication includes email and text messaging by cell-phone and now regularly includes video conferencing with individuals, families.
Sections of the Code of Ethics relevant to the use of social media
SOCIAL WORKERS recognise and support the mana of others. We act towards others with respect, kindness and compassion. We practice empathic solidarity, ensure safe space, acknowledge boundaries and meet obligations.
- We maintain accurate records and share these with persons with whom we work, subject to preserving the privacy of others in those records;
- We commit to obtaining the necessary knowledge and skills for the proper and respectful use of digital technology and social media, recognising that lack of understanding and careless use may pose threats to a range of our ethical obligations;
SOCIAL WORKERS attend to the wellbeing – spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical – of self and others. We acknowledge the significance of whakapapa, self-awareness and self-care.
- We relate to colleagues with integrity, respect, courtesy, openness and honesty, addressing any differences of opinion or practice in a responsible manner.
Access the full ANZASW Code of Ethics at https://anzasw.nz/code-of-ethics-2019/
SOCIAL WORKERS REGISTRATION BOARD
Sections of the Code of Conduct relevant to the use of social media include:
10.7 act in accordance with the ANZASW Code of Ethics, this Code, and any other relevant
regulations, policies, or laws when providing any service by electronic means, including the telephone
10.8 follow the standards that would be applied in a face-to-face supervisory relationship
when using or providing supervision by technological means.
10.4 take special care to protect client privacy and client information when using technology
and/or electronic records
10.5 be proficient in the skills required to use any technology when providing social work
services and to seek appropriate training to stay current with emerging technologies to ensure competent and safe practice
10.6 be aware of the dynamics, advantages, and limitations of technology-based interactions and the ways in which technology-based social work practice can be safely and appropriately conducted – it’s your responsibility to:
- manage any associated risks when using technology – consider the destiny of data and be aware that all posts on social networking sites are public and permanent
- set and maintain clear and appropriate personal and professional boundaries in all forms of communication, including face-to-face contact, written, telephone, and online communications
10.7 act in accordance with the ANZASW Code of Ethics, this Code, and any other relevant regulations, policies, or laws when providing any service by electronic means, including the telephone
10.8 follow the standards that would be applied in a face-to-face supervisory relationship when using or providing supervision by technological means.
Respect the client’s privacy & confidentiality
7.2 treat information gained in the course of the social worker/client relationship as
confidential information and use it for professional purposes only
7.7 maintain client confidentiality and privacy by not referring to any client or client-practice issue in public places including in social media, as even if identifying data such as names or place of residence are not included, the client may still be recognisable.
Work openly & respectfully with colleagues:
8.7 not discuss colleagues in public places or on social media
Protect the rights and promote the interest of clients:
5.8 maintain personal and professional boundaries and not form inappropriate relationships with clients or those close to them
Maintain public trust and confidence in the social work profession:
9.1 maintain a high standard of professional and personal behaviour – avoid activities, work, or non-work that may in any way bring the social work profession into disrepute; the same standards of conduct are expected when using social media and electronic forms of communication
From SWRB https://swrb.govt.nz/covid-19-update/
SWRB encourages social workers to use their professional judgement to assess the risk to deliver safe care informed by the values and principles set out in the Code of Conduct.
The key principles which should be followed include:
- the need to work cooperatively with colleagues to keep people safe,
- to practise in line with the best available evidence, and
- to recognise and work within the limits of your competence.
We recognise that in highly challenging circumstances, social workers may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for clients. If concerns are raised about professional decisions and actions it will always be considered, taking into account the factors relevant at the time.
I’m an essential worker – what do I need to do to keep safe?
Workers need to take reasonable care of their own health and safety, and the health and safety of others, while working. This means following and cooperating with any reasonable health and safety instructions, policies and procedures that you are given, to stay safe and to make sure you do not risk the health and safety of others that you come in contact with through your work. Work with your employer to help develop any new ways of working that are needed to keep you and others safe.
(1) Guidelines. Social Media and Electronic Communication New Zealand Nursing Council 2012