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This content is taken from the University of Strathclyde & CELCIS's online course, COVID-19: Adapting Child Protection Case Management. Join the course to learn more.
Take Care' written in red on a green door with a face mask hanging from the door handle.

Your well-being and safety during COVID-19

Your own well-being is very important. This includes not only addressing your safety, but also addressing any stress and anxiety you may be feeling as a result of the situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Including coping with changing and challenging demands in the work environment.

Feeling tired, overwhelmed and other feelings associated with stress are normal when working in such challenging times. They are by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job or that you are weak, even if it may feel that way. Taking care of yourself and managing your stress and psychosocial well-being during this time is as important as looking after your physical health. Remember to take care of your own needs and to find ways that will particularly help you cope.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is a mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance. The IASC has issued some advice. It includes making sure you:

  • Get some rest during, and between, work shifts
  • Eat sufficient and healthy food
  • Engage in physical activity
  • Stay in contact with family and friends
  • Turn to colleagues, your supervisor, or other trusted persons for social support - remember your colleagues may be having similar experiences to you
  • Avoid unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco and alcohol.

Keeping yourself safe

Whilst facing any challenges to support and protect children during pandemics such as COVID-19 - and indeed at all other times - it is vital that you also keep yourself safe.

We encourage you to read the guidance issued by different professional networks and organisations on ways to do this. In this course step we have gathered some of that information. It includes, for example, guidance issued by the Global Social Workforce Alliance, the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, and the British Association of Social Workers. This guidance recommends:

Before any visit or being based in a public setting:

  • Check any public health guidance
  • Review your case management plans with your supervisor/duty colleagues to ensure it is practical and ethical to make visits for case management, and that risks are reasonably managed - both for you and those you will be in contact with
  • If it has been decided a visit is necessary or you will be based outside of your home, (please see course step 16 on assessing risks), ask for any personal protection equipment (PPE) that is recommended by the public health authorities. An example of PPE guidance can be found here and includes use of soap, hand gel, gloves, apron, face mask etc.
  • Make sure you are trained to use any equipment and understand how often PPE should be changed
  • If you will use equipment that obstructs your face, before any meeting try and explain why you are using it - as well as other precautions that should be taken - to the child and others you will be visiting/working with
  • Confirm who you will be in contact with and the health status of those in the location you are visiting/working
  • If you are sick, or someone in your household is sick, you should inform your supervisor who should make decisions about who else will support your cases.

During a visit or whilst working in a public setting:

  • In all circumstances maintain social distancing - more than 2 metrs away from any other person or follow national guidelines
  • Consult your agency guidance on conducting visits including staying outside in a wide-open, safe, well ventilated space rather than inside, without compromising confidentiality
  • During the visit, minimise the surfaces that you touch, do not put your personal items down on any surfaces, do not touch your face, ask for the room to be ventilated (e.g. through an open window and door) and follow any other public health guidance about minimising infection
  • If you consider that the risks are not proportionate to the need for the meeting, or the situation is not being managed safely, explain why you need to end the visit/meeting and how you will plan to follow up
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitiser before, during and immediately after a visit/contact with others.

After the visit or contact:

  • In line with public health guidance, dispose of any PPE
  • Sanitise any equipment, for example by using disinfectant wipes including phones, laptops etc.
  • At the end of the day, remove and wash clothes that may have been exposed to the virus
  • Inform your organisation of any concerns or risks that you have identified.

Please seek medical attention if you think you may have any COVID-19 symptoms. If it is confirmed that you have COVID-19, all members of your household should remain in quarantine in accordance with national guidance to protect yourself, members of your household and your community. You can find more information about the virus and staying safe on the World Health Organization website.

The ‘See Also’ section below has links to other reading material that may be of interest to you.

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This article is from the free online course:

COVID-19: Adapting Child Protection Case Management

University of Strathclyde