As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to impact on all of us, we wanted to check in with practitioners and students within the Teaching Partnership. A lot of things have changed over the past few weeks and our personal and working lives are probably unrecognisable. Within the Lecturer Practitioner Consultant team, we had to shift our man-power to the front line and currently Sarah Reynolds (BCP), Alex Hurley (BCP) and Karen Maher (Dorset) have returned to their substantive posts. Louise Downes (Wiltshire) and I (Bournemouth Uni) are holding the fort.
The focus of the Teaching Partnership remains on Student support, Teaching at BU and CPD for practitioners and we have changed our way of delivering those aims and are becoming used to online tools.
We are in the process of redesigning the website to meet the needs of the profession at this time and are busy with our academic and practitioner colleagues to develop CPD tools that will support practice. This will include a review of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the guidance that has been issued to Local Authorities Adults and Children’s Services.
But apart from those technical things, Louise and I wanted to share our stories with you, how we are dealing with this situation and how we are trying to manage work from home in these strange times…
When I found the model above on Social Media, it very much resonated with me and could reflect how 4 weeks ago, I was in the ‘Survival stage’. I was unsure and unclear how my job role would change or continue, worried for my colleagues, my family, my friends. It was difficult to concentrate, yet sitting still and not being busy was certainly not an option. Following media and news through an international lens, made me feel helpless and I had the growing urge to protect my nearest and dearest.
Then about a week or two into the Lockdown, I really started to appreciate what and who I have around me and it became more apparent that the Pandemic is not a shared experience. I am very lucky to have a garden to keep my busy and the ability to go for walks. My family is able to access resources for education online and ‘get on with things’. I realised that this was not the same for others and I found new energy and force to tackle online teaching tools and familiarise myself with tools that previously felt so alien to Social Work practice.
However, all the new learning was not coming easily and I had a sense of being overwhelmed with input, news and updates: The government guidance for Social Workers came out thick and fast, new tools were developed for practice, the Coronavirus Act 2020 was released. And in all of this was Easter and my family who wanted me to be with them. So we made the decision to have a week off work, all together, and be on holiday, just as we had planned it before the Pandemic. In that week is slowly merged into the Growth part of the model. I made the very conscious decision to go on a ‘screen detox’ and switched off phones, computers and did not even look at the TV. For two days I shut my eyes and ears to any news or updates and focussed on my own wellbeing. Now we all have different ways for self-care but I discovered that I really like to go on a walk, and yes, the weather has certainly helped with that. I also signed up to online Yoga sessions and since then have been on the mat every morning at 7am. Turns out that I function much better with routines and getting out of bed is one of them. I am setting myself intentions each day and reflect what I want to achieve and then find ways to do just that.
Now my garden and my home look a lot tidier. I have decluttered a lot. I am thinking of things that have changed in my life, personally and professionally and what I want to keep in future. That doesn’t mean that all days are great and I am totally Zen, but then that wasn’t the case before the Pandemic. There will be a lot of learning coming out of this for all of us on different levels and Social Work as much as Society will not be the same as before. Communities and individuals will need time to recover and heal and as Social Workers will need to be ready to support this process.
For me it has been a rollercoaster of emotions, looking at the model above I feel I have moved from one phase to the other and back again. As a Social Worker we are used to dealing with uncertainty and managing crisis situations, I think when we first went into ‘lock down’ those skills and instincts kicked in and I was very much ‘I’ve got this’. However, as the reality dawned, the news reports came in detailing what it was like to die of the virus I did become panicked and scared and to be honest I just wanted to protect my own. Then came GUILT, guilt for my selfish thoughts, that I am safe and well and working from home whilst my health and social care colleagues are putting themselves and their families at risk, that I’m not able to provide answers and reassurance to my children, that I can’t spend time with my children supporting them through their school work, that I’m not being as productive as I would normally be with my work.
Alongside guilt I have also felt extremely GRATEFUL; that my family are safe and well, that I have a home with space to work and a garden, the beautiful weather and WIFI.
I now feel that I am in the growth section I have been surprised at my ability to use technology and planning how I can use this to do my work more effectively now and in the future. I am learning new skills e.g. recording my voice to a power point presentation. I am now being kinder to myself lowering my expectations and recognising my achievements. To take a quote from social media: You are not “working from home” you are “at home, during a crisis, trying to work.”
Look after yourselves and those around you, Louise
As the Teaching Partnership, we will be undertaking research over the next coming months to evaluate how the Pandemic is impacting on the professions and what is changing. We would invite you warmly to take part in this research, please feel free to contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org
Tilia and Louise