Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Please note that all times are shown in the time zone of the conference. The current conference time is: 22nd Jan 2022, 01:26:00pm EET

Session Overview
Workshops 1-2: Pandemic ethics: applying practice lessons to social work education; How to deal with the pandemic in professional relationship training. Methodology and ethical dilemmas in the Italian scenario
Wednesday, 16/June/2021:
1:30pm - 3:00pm

Location: Parallel Session 1

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Pandemic ethics: applying practice lessons to social work education

Sarah Banks1, Teresa Bertotti2, Jane Shears3, Michelle Shum4, Ana M Sobočan5, Kim Strom6, María Jesús Úriz Pemán7

1Durham University, UK; 2University of Trento, Italy; 3IFSW Ethics Commissioner (Europe Region); 4Hong Kong Baptist University; 5University Of Ljubljana, Slovenia; 6University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA; 7Public University of Navarra, Spain

This workshop will explore lessons learned for social work education from the ethical challenges faced by social workers during Covid-19. Radical changes to practice during this period caused social workers to rethink their notions of right and wrong. An action considered ‘unethical’ in normal times might be judged to be right in pandemic conditions (e.g. restricting family visits to dying relatives, leaving children in inadequate foster placements, meeting service users in gardens, or breaking bad news over the internet). These are examples from social workers’ everyday practice reported in a survey conducted by the authors with the International Federation of Social Workers during May 2020.

The pandemic disrupted usual ways of working, in which professional ethical values are embedded, such as: private in-person meetings with confidentiality assured; regular in-person assessments based on service users’ rights to participate in decision-making; or services for homeless people that treat them with dignity and respect. In pandemic conditions, it is important that the ethical components of these practices are identified and abstracted, and new ways of implementing them as well as possible are sought. During a pandemic, how can social workers treat people with as much dignity as possible, accord them respect and choice, and ensure confidentiality and privacy where feasible? How do social workers weigh these principles against preserving the health and safety of individuals, families and the public? The pandemic has brought to the surface the ethical underpinnings of social work for re-examination. It has also shown the importance of high levels of ethical awareness and competence to carefully think through the ethical implications of different actions, inactions, attitudes and approaches.

This workshop will explore the ethical challenges experienced during Covid-19, and how ethics teaching might take account of learning from the pandemic. We will use case studies from practice in small facilitated groups to draw out key issues, considering new ideas for preparing students through developing ethical vigilance, ethical resistance, enhanced ethical reasoning, decision- making, ‘empathy within reason’, and strengthened professional ethical identity.

How to deal with the pandemic in professional relationship training. Methodology and ethical dilemmas in the Italian scenario

Giovanni Cellini

University of Turin, Italy

The emergency of the pandemic, which hit hard the Italian social services system, required new ways of professional intervention, and generated new training needs for social work students.

Physical distance has led social workers to change and redefine professional practices in the field, in order to maintain the professional role. Building and maintaining relationships with clients, in physical distance, seems to be one of the most important challenges for social work at the time of the pandemic, which has very significant implications for professional ethics. This challenge involves social workers in the field as well as students and teachers.

Social workers in Italy have represented their resilience in the pandemic through written reports on the websites of professional associations and open access non-scientific journals.

At the same time, universities have tackled the problem of distance learning and teaching through many initiatives, taking advantage of their institutional web sites. Universities had to redefine the social work training courses, using distance learning methods and facing the difficulties of carrying out social work internships in social services.

The paper identifies some ethical dilemmas on social work education in the pandemic, through a review of social work methodology and the presentation of first results of a qualitative research, based on the analysis of documents available on the institutional websites of Italian Universities. A sample of degree courses in social work was selected, in order to identify how the Universities have redefined training tools, especially in field work education, for the learning of relational skills in forced physical distance.

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