Advice for TLSW practitioners during the lockdown regarding Covid-19

TLSWi acknowledges the challenges for working with children and families at this time and for many of us, we are not essential workers and have to abide by the UK government directions of self-isolating/distancing. There is no doubt that this will impact on the children, young people and families that we are responsible to.

However, there are things that we can do to continue with our support via social media and the telephone. If we can ensure that we contact our families fortnightly through video/telephone then this confirms that we are thoughtful of them by offering consistency, predictability and repetition – which we know are the most fundamental and powerful ingredients of our work that we offer and should never be underated.

 

Face to Face Work

TLSWi advises that there is a postponement of face to face work in line with the UK Government’s order of Monday 23rd March 2020 and for the next three weeks (and beyond if further measures enforced).

 

Video Call therapeutic intervention

TLSWi recommends that video conference and intervention via video is possible but that the medium chosen and the privacy of such intervention needs to be thought through carefully. Platforms such as Skype, Whatsapp and Facetime are universal, but not as safe as the business conference platforms such as Zoom, Whereby and similar.

Consider the topics that you cover and try to avoid conversations that might leave the child/family in challenging situations, a risk assessment within your session plans might be very helpful in this instance.

Although the TLSW model recommends fortnightly sessions, at this time, shorter sessions but on a weekly basis may feel more appropriate (a fortnight during this time and especially during the lock down period may feel a very long time for some people). It is important that you seek the thoughts and agreements for changing your delivery method to a more virtual platform from your commissioners from now.

Please remember that if the engaged adult/ responsible parent does not wish to engage in video, accept this and just keep in text contact. If going ahead with video sessions seek agreement that the video is acceptable via email agreement, do not record the session, but take notes as you would if it was a face to face session and then send the notes to the adult/responsible parent for their information.

Remember to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of your telephone and video calls, making sure that you do so from an uninterrupted and private space in your house. Make sure that you tell the child and their responsible parent that you are able to provide that.

If the session is you as practitioner and the child/young person and not the responsible parent, it is important to consider that your session time may offer a much needed ‘respite’ for the adult during this challenging time.

If the session is you as a practitioner and the responsible parent and not the child, then you acknowledge that for this time, you are providing parental support.

We are really all ‘in the same boat’ currently and this more virtual way of working is going to be new for most of us. Following an initial try out with the child/young person and their responsible adult, it is important to clarify whether you are having a ‘catch up’ or ‘check in’ with them each time or whether the plan is to facilitate a more structured life story work session as you would if you were together in person. This will take some planning with the responsible parent and may involve you sending ideas and activities to them ahead of the session but for some children it will be important to have more than a check in.

 

Telephone Intervention

Avoid sessions by telephone but we do encourage ‘checking-in’ support so that children and their families understand you are OK, safe and thoughtful of them…and they are able to do the same for you.

Not all children, young people and families will want to or be able to proceed with this change in medium. For some the change will feel too tricky and possibly not in the child’s or family’s best interest. For others they may not have access to the equipment needed or be able to provide the time and space whilst other family members are at home. If this is the case, then the ‘old fashioned’ method of posting a letter or card, ensuring that you are keeping them in mind until you can resume normal sessions would be encouraged.

Final note – we are all going to learn much from this time and most of us will be continuing our work virtually until the Government and supporting organisations lift the restrictions that need to be in place currently to keep us as safe as possible during the CoVld19 pandemic. From this we look forward to learning about good practise virtually when supporting children and young people with their TLSW.

 

Insurance

Make sure that you check in with your insurance brokers as many have guidance for working remotely/online, as an example one insure states the following: –

‘Provided that your clients are safe during and after your session with them then we can provide cover. If working online you will need to have a secure platform and you need to have a back-up procedure in place to contact your client should the internet fail. You need to maintain confidentiality and records in the normal way. Also, the therapy work that you do with your client needs to be within the boundaries of your training’ 

 

Final Comments

Please remember to follow the Government’s guidance and rules, keep yourself safe, those that you care for, work with and protect at the center of any decisions and actions you take for the next few weeks and months.

 

Richard Rose

April 2020