Organizational and Legal Aspects of Changes in Social Work Management During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Analysis in the Perspective of Qualitative Research in the Example of Poland

Mikolaj Jacek Luczak
European Research Studies Journal, Volume XXVI, Issue 2, 19-29, 2023
DOI: 10.35808/ersj/3136


Purpose: The Covid-19 pandemic caused significant changes in the functioning of social services in Europe and in the world, and these changes affected both developing and developed countries. The aim of this article is to answer the question of how these changes are evaluated by social workers themselves. Design/Methodology/Approach: The basis for the article was the analysis of: 1/ the results of the original research project 'Social work during the Covid-19 pandemic' conducted in 2020-2021 in the Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland, 2/ legal regulations regarding the organisation of work in social welfare institutions. 12 social workers from various institutions of the social welfare sector took part in the qualitative research. The interviews focused on two main areas, i.e. 1/ the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the organisation of work (including the emerging of changes in legal regulations) and 2/ the impact on the psychological comfort of work, stress level and possible changes in interpersonal relations of the employees and their charges. Conclusions resulting from the second of the mentioned research areas have been shown in this article. Findings: The introduced legal and organisational regulations resulting from sanitary restrictions significantly influenced the methods of social work in social welfare institutions. These changes enabled the implementation of key tasks of social workers towards their charges and at the same time ensured a relatively high level of health security. By means of the research, thinking of maintaining the continuity of the support provided, the organisation of social work during the pandemic can be evaluated as positive. Nevertheless, the experience of the first waves of the pandemic shows that it is necessary to develop methods of remote social work in those areas where it is possible. Practical implications: In the light of the analysed research material, three recommendations are particularly important. The first one is methodological, it is recommended to treat the analysed qualitative research as a pilot study for research projects with a nationwide (in relation to Poland) and European area, taking into account the differences and similarities in the organisation of social assistance systems in particular countries. The second concerns a deep evaluation of the effectiveness of the introduced legislative regulations regarding the methods of providing support, and at the same time protecting social workers against epidemiological threats. The last of them is educational: it is recommended to develop and organise standardised training for employees of the social welfare sector, including social workers 1/ in the area of sanitary and epidemiological procedures that should be implemented in emergencies, 2/ in the area of application and adaptation of ICT technologies for remote social work, 3/ in the area of dealing with stress. Originality/value: The article draws attention to the experiences of employees of social welfare institutions in the pandemic. Interpersonal relations with charges, personal meetings, face-to-face communication are one of the most important tools in social work. The Covid-19 pandemic inevitably led to a situation in which the health security of employees and their charges was in some way opposed to the social security of the latter. The introduced rules of social distance made it difficult, and often prevented, the use of useful methods and techniques used in social work. In order to analyse the organisational and legal solutions used in Poland during the first waves of the pandemic, the results of the original qualitative research with social workers (Pomeranian Voivodeship) were used.

Cite Article (APA Style)