As the regulator, the SWRB recognises that social workers, employers and communities are facing challenging circumstances in the response to COVID-19.
Some of you will be part of the essential services but those who are not need to heed the government’s direction to stay at home.
If you are at work or out in the community as part of the response to COVID-19, your employer should have plans in place for how you can practise safely.
We suggest speaking to your employer directly if you have concerns about your health and work through how they can adopt flexible approaches to working, including working from home, and fulfil all their obligations under the Health Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). Those employers delivering essential services are asked to consider measures to:
- minimise personal interactions among staff, and with and between clients, and
- ensure appropriate heath, hygiene and safety measures are in place.
It is for each sector or employer to decide how best to do this.
We also encourage you to use your 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, you may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for clients. If concerns are raised about your decisions and actions it will always be considered, taking into account the factors relevant at the time.
You can also contact ANZASW at firstname.lastname@example.org or (03) 349 0190 which is the professional association for social workers in New Zealand.
Employers should have plans in place for how staff can practise safely, if they are at work or out in the community as part of the response to COVID-19.
There is good advice available for employers on the government website: https://covid19.govt.nz/help-and-advice/for-businesses-and-organisations/employers-including-rse/
There are also some practical steps you can take to protect yourself and others, including:
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently (for at least 20 seconds)
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues, and put them in the bin
- Change your greetings to a big smile and avoid personal contact so please don’t hongi, shake hands, kiss or hug.
We have looked at what the SWRB will need to do now that we have to work remotely, and this is what we’re committed to:
- Registration – we will maintain the Public Register and continue to issue Practising Certificates. Due to the lockdown, we are temporarily putting on hold new applications for registration as some documents need certifying, and you will currently not be able to seek that without breaching lockdown requirements. For those people who have already submitted an application, a member of our registration team will be contacting you to see how we can support you to progress.
- Complaints – we will continue to assess notifications and complaints
- Education – we will work with educators on maintaining education standards for programmes
- IT system support – we’re committed to making sure the system can operate remotely
- Accounts – we plan to be able to pay bills
We are looking after our staff so they can continue looking after you by the following approaches:
- Working from home – we are working remotely
- Lockdown – we are asking staff to follow lockdown requirements
- Roadshows – we are moving to a digital approach, and will be temporarily suspending any forums