In November 2020, the College conducted a survey to members to gather information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on members’ practice, and to identify areas where the College might enhance its practice support to members through the pandemic and beyond.
Members were asked a broad range of questions, from general demographic questions to more specific questions related to the impact of COVID-19. In total, 4,728 members completed the survey, which represents approximately 20% of membership; this is the highest number of respondents to a College survey to date. Eighty-six per cent of respondents identified as social workers, and 14% as social service workers.
Here are some of the key insights from the COVID-19 Impact Survey:
Disruption of services
The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted the delivery of services for many social workers, social service workers and their employers. More than a quarter of the survey’s respondents (30%) said that they/ their organization suspended services in some form. The most cited reasons for suspending services were related to the disruption of in-person services, health and safety, and the lockdown. Furthermore, nine per cent of respondents said that they lost their employment – temporarily or permanently – due to the pandemic.
Shift to electronic practice
A dramatic shift from in-person to electronic services took place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, 70% of respondents said that they/ their organization did not provide electronic services. At the time of the survey, however, more than 54% of respondents said that they/ their organization had transitioned to electronic services. And it looks as though this trend is here to stay: nearly two-thirds of respondents (67%) said that they/ their organization will continue to offer electronic services – or use a hybrid approach – beyond the pandemic.
Accessibility and equity concerns
Not all survey respondents said that they/ their organizations were able to transition smoothly to electronic services. Of those respondents who were unable to transition to electronic services, a plurality (38%) cited concerns related to accessibility and equitable services for clients. A detailed analysis of those responses revealed a number of concerns including:
- Clients’ ability to engage in electronic practice (80%)
- Clients’ comfort level using technology (63%)
- Availability of required equipment (52%)
Greater focus on safety
According to the survey results, most members (61%) have been asked to practise in a different manner as a result of COVID-19. The changes most cited were related to cleaning protocols, staff meetings, client communications, physical office set-up, and training.
Eighty per cent of respondents said that they/ their organizations have implemented safety measures to accommodate in-person services. Of those respondents providing in-person services, virtually all (95%) said they wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing in-person services. Of those respondents, more than 80% said that they/ their organization offers PPE to clients during in-person services.
The survey results also indicate that most members (85%) are reviewing the College’s communications related to COVID-19, at least occasionally. Seventy-nine per cent of respondents said that the College’s recommendations have been helpful to their practice. Most respondents (68%) have used the ETHICS->A: Ethical Decision-Making Tool during the pandemic.
The College would like to thank all members who participated in the COVID-19 Impact Survey. We understand that these are difficult times for members as well as the clients and communities they serve. The survey results have enabled the College to gather critical information about the overall impact of COVID-19 on its members. We will continue to support members in their practice and carefully consider the need for additional resources based on this feedback.
For additional information about the COVID-19 Impact Survey, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.