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Social work with people who use drugs during the Covid-19 pandemic: A mixed methods study
Malmö University, Faculty of Health and Society (HS), Department of Social Work (SA).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0653-0849
Malmö University, Faculty of Health and Society (HS), Department of Social Work (SA).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6975-6645
2022 (English)In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, p. 1-14Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Measures to control the spread of Covid-19 are challenging social work practice in terms of difficulties to deliver services to vulnerable groups. The aim of this study was to investigate how the Covid-19 pandemic affected social work with people who use drugs regarding ways of working, quality of work, accessibility, and staff motivation. A mixed methods approach was used which included an online survey (n = 81), and three qualitative focus group sessions with social workers in the field of addiction. We analysed the quantitative data through frequency calculations, cross tabulations and Pearson’s χ2 test, and the qualitative data with qualitative textual analysis. The demand for physical distancing challenged important principles of social work such as social closeness, trust and accessibility, and led to a difficult work environment and fewer opportunities to conduct high quality social work, as well as a reduced likelihood of vulnerable clients receiving adequate assistance. Altered practices concerning client meetings negatively affected assessments, working alliances as well as motivation and energy in social work practice. Social workers on the frontline became the ‘last outpost’ when other services shut down, and ‘digital bridges’ between clients and other social workers. Social workers faced a difficult trade-off between protecting themselves and clients from the risk of infection and providing support to a vulnerable group. There were also examples of new practices and lessons learned, for example, the introduction of ‘walks and talks’ with clients and an increased knowledge of how and when to use digital tools for communication.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2022. p. 1-14
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-55994DOI: 10.1080/2156857x.2022.2141839Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85141616872OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-55994DiVA, id: diva2:1710579
Part of project
Urban drug scenes as risk environments - how do the police and social welfare institutions intervene and how are problem drug users affected?, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P18-0892:1Available from: 2022-11-14 Created: 2022-11-14 Last updated: 2024-04-04Bibliographically approved

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Richert, TorkelNordgren, Johan

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