Social workers worried over working outside their profession

Social workers worried over working outside their profession

By Geneviève April

“The phone can ring at any moment to tell me that tomorrow I’ll be in a seniors residence. I can’t sleep any longer and I feel ill. I don’t know what I’ll be doing if I get a call,” a Lanaudière region social worker who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal stated in a telephone interview.

Quebec’s Health and Social Services ministry confirmed that social workers are among the staff whom it contemplates redeploying to lend a hand, if required, in the province’s long-term care facilities.

The Health Ministry reassured that psychosocial service employees who are sent to seniors homes will do the same work there as in their day-to-day jobs.

“Temporarily relocated social workers must offer services akin to those expected of their profession,” Health Ministry spokesman Robert Maranda replied in an electronic mail message. “An orientation process is anticipated when personnel are added.”

Child welfare specialists feel unprepared to work with seniors.

“I work in a child welfare environment. I studied psychology. I never had any training in physical care, I know absolutely nothing about [senior] clientele!” cried a Laval region social work specialist, who also fears figuring on the call-out list to support the region’s seniors homes, which are among the most COVID-19 ravaged in the province. Asking not to be identified out of fear of retribution, she reminded that she has not had any training in how to move and care for the elderly, or to properly use personal protective equipment.

“I can’t believe that I will be obliged to work there, I’m really afraid. I’ll be jeopardizing my health, my safety, and it’s not safe for the elderly either,” she added. “Working as an orderly is a trade, it’s not something that just anybody can do”.

Cleaning bedsores, bathing adults, moving confused patients and feeding patients are examples of care which takes training, not to mention the adverse psychological effects of the work, she explained.

“No, psychologically, I’m not able to change a grandfather’s or a grandmother’s diaper. I’m unable to watch them die. I don’t want to do this work. My work, it’s with children.”

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