Thursday, June 23, 2016

Global: The gap between social work values and approaches, public policy and systems of care

Social work is about the whole of society, not just individuals

Social workers are meeting in South Korea to discuss how we can put our skills into practice and resist restrictions from employers and governments

Truell, R. (2016). The Guardian. Retrieved from:

Social workers from around the world are meeting next week to address one of the main challenges the profession faces today: the gap between the social work approach and the conflicting expectations of some employers and governments.

More than two thousand social workers from over 100 countries will be participating in the Social Work and Social Development 2016 world conference which is being held in Seoul, South Korea on 27-30 June.
Every day, social workers make unique contributions to society, forming social solutions with those who use services, their families and communities. But much of this work is unrecognised or overlooked, because in a number of countries employers and governments simply don’t understand the value of longer-term, sustainable wellbeing.

Embedded in social work’s theory and practice is an understanding that people cannot live sustainable, fulfilled lives unless they are connected in a social framework and able to exercise influence and direction over their own lives. The issue was highlighted this month with research showing why Glaswegians die so much younger than people in other UK cites. The researchers found that as a consequence of past town planning policies, Glaswegians have for many years suffered from a lack of community networks. They were also disenfranchised from basic democratic structures preventing them from influencing their own futures.

The effects have been devastating. Life expectancy for Glaswegian men is seven years less than the national average – five years less for women. Strong social networks and self-determination not only enable to people to live longer, but they also provide a social context where people live with better health and have more satisfying lives.

Sadly, many governments see social protection systems as top-down platforms for the alleviation of individual poverty or to provide a targeted harm-reduction focus on particular groups. But this doesn’t change the causes and cycles that perpetuate poverty and suffering. The social work perspective sees that social protection should be designed to promote the wellbeing of the whole population, rather than a strategy that provides relief for individuals who have been failed by their societies.

The social work profession advocates that protection systems are agencies for transformation, which focus on strengthening communities. In practical terms, this often starts when social workers work with families to help them realise their strength. Likewise, social workers and communities build initiatives that can shape the lives of all members so that they are more engaged in their wellbeing and future.

Put simply, social services are too often designed with a rotating door at the front. A stressed person comes in, learns to be de-stressed and then goes back to the stressful environment, requiring them to come back to the service again. What’s important from a social work perspective is that services provide more than access to limited financial, social or medical assistance. They become platforms for enabling people to understand their rights and learn how to shape their environment for the better.

From our daily practice experience, social workers know that people don’t want to be in the hands of disempowering systems, which can undermine their traditional and organic means of helping one another. People who use social services and those trying to access them want fairness: a level playing field and equal opportunity to succeed. They want their voices to be heard and to have influence over their own lives.

The new IFSW policy, The role of social workers in social protection systems, along with the new global definition of social work will help practitioners and their representative organisations engage with employers and governmental bodies to understand the social work approach. It is critical that such understanding leads to clear job descriptions that enable social workers workers to put their skills and training into practice.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Update: Medical Assistance in Dying & Registered Social Workers in BC

Guidance for Social Workers Dealing with Physician Assisted Dying

BC College of Social Workers. Retrieved from:

As the medical assistance in dying legislation (#MAID), Bill-C14, continues to undergo Parliamentary scrutiny, many health professionals including Registered Social Workers have raised concerns regarding liability and legal issues that could arise in the provision of services to clients. Until such time that the law is passed and the Criminal Code is amended, the Criminal Justice Branch from the Ministry of Justice of BC has provided guidelines for prosecutors. The guidelines establish that, so long as the conditions in Carter are met,  there is no substantial likelihood of a conviction for physicians or other health care professionals involved in carrying out or providing information about physician-assisted death. Registered Social Workers are considered health care professionals.
Registrants of the BCCSW, who may be involved with individuals who are requesting physician-assisted death and their families,  must continue to abide by the Standards of Practice. These Standards include: working in the best interest of clients, documenting decision making processes, keeping up to date with changes to legislation, referring to other professionals when appropriate and consulting with others when unsure. Being aware of changes to legislation includes reviewing the supporting resources provided by various levels of government, other health regulators and health authorities.
For more details about medical assistance in dying legislation, please watch for the next edition of the College Conversation newsletter and continue to check the College’s website for updates.
The Branch recognizes that a physician-assisted death may require the involvement of various healthcare professionals, including nurses and pharmacists. When charges are assessed on a case by case basis, the conditions of physician-assisted death set out in Carter should be applied to physicians and to other health care professionals involved in carrying out, or providing information about, a physician-assisted death. When the conditions in Carter are met, pursuant to the CJB policy on Charge Assessment Guidelines (CHA 1) there is no substantial likelihood of a conviction for charges under section 241(b) for physicians or other healthcare professionals involved in carrying out a physician-assisted death, including nurses and pharmacists, nor would the public interest test be met.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Advocacy: Worksafe BC isn't publically releasing data on injury claims, acceptance for injured and disabled workers in BC

Re: WorkSafeBC rebate for business owners is overdue, Opinion, May 30
Laura Jones’ argument that WorkSafeBC should rebate business owners due to “overfunding” falls flat. A likely source of the “overfunding” is the numbers of injury claims WorkSafeBC denied workers over 2014 and 2015.
WorkSafeBC revealed 146,814 injuries were reported by workers in 2013. WorkSafeBC disallowed 8.6 per cent of claims. There is no data about claims accepted or disallowed for 2014 or 2015, a serious oversight in terms of  transparency and accountability. 
Another concern is that one per cent of WorkSafeBC decisions on denied worker injury claims were overturned at the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) “due to perceived error in the application of legislation or policy.” This is an increase over 2014 numbers. 
As a registered social worker and counsellor I have assisted people injured or disabled in the workplace and many have been failed by the system, often leaving these workers and their families in crisis. 
The B.C. Supreme Court recently ordered WorkSafeBC to reopen and investigate a claim they denied where a man was bullied, demeaned and harassed by a supervisor. How many other such claims has WorkSafeBC denied? Until they report this, it is premature to talk about rebates for employers.
Tracey Young, Catalyst Enterprises BC: Counselling, Consulting, Coaching