Giving Full Play of Professional Social Work both Online and Offline
– Over 7600 Social Workers in Shenzhen Offer Services to 1.85 Million Citizens during the COVID-19 outbreak
Prepared by : Wang Guan, Zhou Qiancheng
During the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, social workers in Shenzhen have made rapid and accurate responses. Since January 26, when Shenzhen Association of Social Workers announced the emergency response mechanism of social work industry, social work organizations and social workers have joined their hands in controlling the epidemic. As of March 20, over 7600 social workers from 61 social work organizations have participated in the services, offering services in over 1256 community centers, and also in healthcare settings, rehabilitation centers, enterprises, etc.. They have established 152 psychological counseling hotlines. The total number of people who have benefited from the services have reached 1.852 million, both offline and online services included.
Communities are the frontlines of containing the disease and preventing its spread. Since the outbreak of the disease, social workers in community centers have cooperated with regional government offices and residents’ organizations in controlling the disease, giving full play of their professional skills and values of social work. A workgroup mechanism that includes government workers, social workers and healthcare workers were formed, which offers services such as education of the epidemic and policies, consultation, archive registration, health screening, statistics and analysis, housing assistance, purchasing and distribution of daily necessities and other supports. Thus, social work has become a great feature and an important part of fighting the epidemic.
A social worker from Shenzhen Beidou Social Work Service Center buying daily supplies for senior citizens who live alone and empty nesters.
Under the impact of the epidemic, quarantined residents may have negative emotions such as anxiety and depression. Therefore, social workers are giving emotional and psychological support through phone calls, group chat messages and social media. Social workers also offer crisis interventions, online competitions and online classes to the residents, giving support to residents on various aspects of life. 152 psychological counseling hotlines have been established that include services such as information consultation, myth-busting, emotional distress and psychological comforting.
For quarantined residents who came back from Hubei Province and other areas that have a large number of cases, social workers in Shenzhen have made group chats and are giving online video follow-ups on them. Through online chatting and phone calls, the worries that these residents have are soothed. Other online activities are held to make residents stay positive and remain a healthy relationship with their family members. Some residents have also made some handicrafts to pay a tribute to healthcare workers.
A social worker from Shenzhen Shelian Social Work Service Center giving an online course about how residents should get better sleep during the epidemic.
The elderly are high-risk people susceptible to the virus. Social workers in Shenzhen have provided services such as giving guidance of preventing the disease, information verification, psychological care, material procurement, and coordinating medical resources for the elderly in the communities, especially for those living alone and empty nesters. Mainly by talking on the phone, social workers learn about the physical and mental health conditions and needs of this special group, promote their knowledge, guide their prevention methods, assist their emotional adjustment, and help them purchase living goods and deliver them directly to the door. To seek outlets for their unhealthy emotions due to long-term quarantine, social workers timely communicate with the elderly and offer them heart-warming “cloud companionship”.
At the same time, social workers in Shenzhen have provided diversified, targeted and effective services on epidemic prevention and control for the confirmed patients and their families, people with mental disorders, drug addicts, people with disabilities, the homeless and other people in need, as well as expats and their families in Shenzhen. Shekou Management and Service Center for Expats, Nanshan International Cultural Exchange & Service Center, Shekou Net Valley Management and Service Center for Expats and Foreigners Community Service Station, which are all operated by Shenzhen Nanshan Southwind Social Work Service Center, have set up a “Southwind Foreign-related Service Team”, which is specialized in serving foreigners, providing services such as official information translation and reposting, consulting services, language support, services from international volunteers, etc.. All of these actions have been highly praised by foreigners in Shenzhen.
Foreign-related social workers also recruited a team of international volunteers. With the coordination from Nanshan Foreign Affairs Office, a team of 21 foreign-related social workers and 79 international volunteers that provide service with 11 different languages have been working on epidemic prevention. Foreign-related social workers help transferring and settling down foreigners, provide translation services on polices and guidelines. It has made a significant contribution on preventing and controlling the ongoing epidemic. Chen Rugui, the mayor of Shenzhen Municipal Government has also spoken highly of them.
A foreign-related social worker from Shenzhen Nanshan Southwind Social Work Service Center helps a foreigner register at Shenzhen Bay Port.
Liu Tao is a social worker who went to his hometown – Suizhou in Hubei Province for Spring Festival. As a CPC member, he volunteered to help with the prevention and control of the virus after seeing the severe situation there. And his working experience in communities in Shenzhen helped him in leading the people in the work of prevention. When the number of cases were growing in his hometown, he carried out the work of sorting out the statistics of people entering and leaving the village. When people were in need at the check point of the village, he would go there to help and kept reminding people of the self-preventive measures.
During the epidemic, social workers in Shenzhen have also played the role of “resource linker”. They collect medical supplies, coordinate social resources and raise funds. The supplies include masks, sanitizers, gloves, wipes, etc. All of these are necessities to ensure the safeties of people who work on controlling the epidemic.
In order to learn from other countries’ experiences, Shenzhen Association of Social Workers translated and excerpted some of the social work related contents of National Association of Social Workers’ (USA) reports on Ebola. The excerpt was later published online with National Association of Social Workers’ (USA) authorization. Moreover, Shenzhen Association of Social Workers also wrote the guidelines of social work on the coronavirus epidemic, revised social work regulations, adjusted insurance structures and collected medical supplies to support social workers.
There is not a winter that will not pass, there is not a spring that will not come. With the global impact of the pandemic, social workers in Shenzhen will stay with social workers in China and also social workers around the world. We are confident that with our efforts together, we are going to overcome the hard time. With more frequent exchanges and communications, we can protect the health and safety of the people with better services. Let’s look forward to a better future with more resolute faith.
Source: Shenzhen Association of Social Workers, China
Author: Wang Guan, Zhou Qiancheng