Social Worker Self-Care means Better Services

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers

Employers take note: social worker self-care means better services

An NGO initiative highlights the need for social worker well-being to be at the centre of efforts to improve services, the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) said today.

The Association commends the decision by the Anglican Trust for Women and Children (ATWC) to provide employees, including social workers, with a monthly paid “My Day,” which they are required to take to boost their own well-being through whatever activity they choose.

“Actions such as this are exactly the sort of thing we would like to see available to all social workers,” Lucy Sandford-Reed, Chief Executive of ANZASW said.

“We’ve been told by many members, especially statutory social workers, that pressure reduction is as important to them as what they earn. And given that employers are legally obliged to limit the risk caused by work-related stress, we see these kinds of initiatives as not just good ideas- but represent best practice,” she asserted.

“Furthermore, our Code of Ethics and the SWRB Code of Conduct explicitly require social workers to maintain their well-being in order to ensure the highest standards. We encourage employers to see these codes as a guide for how to optimise outcomes” she said.

“This example provided by ATWC is all the more noteworthy in that it is coming from the chronically under-resourced NGO provider- we would like to see more funded self-care options available to all social workers and, especially social workers in State agencies,” she noted.

“In social work, it’s sometimes the case that the last person you look after is yourself,” ATWC Service Manager Shelmaine Terblanche told ANZASW.

“We started this initiative as a six month trial from Sept 2018 – Feb 2019, before undertaking a review of its effect upon our services, stakeholders and clientele,” she added

“General findings revealed an increase in staff satisfaction, no negative impact on productivity and a significant reduction in unplanned leave in comparison to the same period the previous year. My Day is now a permanent gifted day as of July 2019,” she continued.