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Workers are being urged to put away the comfortable work shoes they are working in for now, amid fears the social worker will be forced to put them away to help keep them warm.
Workers on the verge of starvation is a new term in social work circles after social workers in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia found themselves on the front lines of a coronavirus pandemic and were forced to ration their social support to ensure everyone was in bed by mid-afternoon.
The Queensland Social Work Association says social workers have been instructed to put aside any work footwear that is not comfortable, which they have been told will help reduce the strain on their mental health.
But workers are worried that the coronaviral pandemic will force them to put their comfort wear aside to keep people warm.
“We’re going to have to have some really difficult days in the short term,” said social worker, Tracey Boughton, as she watched her two-year-old daughter, Sarah, play in a hot car in a suburb of Melbourne.
“Sarah is in hospital right now and the doctors are saying it could take up to a week before she is discharged.”
Social workers have already found themselves in the hot seat as they were forced, through the use of a special accommodation order, to use a cooling device that kept Sarah’s temperature at just 25 degrees Celsius.
Sarah is now on ventilators and is receiving treatment for severe dehydration.
“She’s dehydrated and she’s very sick.
We need to have someone come and help her get a cooler to help her,” said Ms Boughtson.
Social worker, Dr Rebecca Mathers, says the coronovirus has forced social workers to work in more than 40 locations around the country and that the social workers’ work is vital to their mental and physical health.
“Social workers are in the middle of a very difficult time in terms of the coronivirus.
They are seeing families come in with the flu and other illnesses, and there is a real sense of helplessness,” she said.
Dr Rebecca Malthouse, a social worker at St Vincent de Paul Hospital, says social work is being forced to take on a new focus.
She says social worker fatigue has increased the strain that the work has put on staff.
“[We] need to be working in these situations as a team,” she explained.
Ms Malthace said social workers are being forced into extreme situations to help patients with a “mental health crisis”.
“I’ve been working with children who have been in crisis, with children in mental health crises and with families who are coping with a child’s mental health crisis.
I’ve seen social workers, nurses and social workers doing the hardest work in these communities,” she told ABC News Breakfast.
In South Australia, social worker and child psychologist Tracey Malthon, who is based in Perth, has been asked to stay at a hotel and said she would need to go home for her own safety.
A senior social worker from Victoria has also been asked not to return to her office and is also on venti-care.
Victoria’s social worker says the situation is getting worse in the state.
Social Workers in Queensland say they have also been told not to take the risk of ventilating patients.
Health minister, Kate Jones, said the department was aware of the problem.
We need to take some very, very tough decisions and make sure that we don’t get left behind.” “
We all know how hard the work is.
We need to take some very, very tough decisions and make sure that we don’t get left behind.”
“The people who are doing the most difficult work, they’re in a really difficult place.”
Victoria social worker Dr Kate Jones said social work had been hit hard by the coronaveid pandemic.
Queensland’s social workers said they were also under pressure.
Mr Boughtons daughter Sarah is now recovering in hospital.
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