21:15 PM

Mohawk College, Interval House of Hamilton partner to benefit frontline social workers

ideaworks skyscape of Hamilton

Mohawk College researchers are working with women’s shelter Interval House of Hamilton to improve the well-being of frontline social service providers post-pandemic.

This innovative applied research project will examine the impact of COVID-19 conditions on frontline social service workers at the Hamilton-based shelter that serves women fleeing from relationship violence and abuse. Working with Interval House of Hamilton staff, college researchers aim to provide valuable insights that will guide the creation of a Wellness Toolkit to bolster the well-being of staff who have been dealing with the increased intensity and volume of cases that emerged during the pandemic.

“Due to the pandemic, frontline workers supporting at-risk individuals have endured many obstacles as they navigate various restrictions and closures. All the while, the pandemic caused a surge in the number of women seeking shelter, and increased the complexity of their needs in light of COVID-19,” says Christine Sager, Academic Coordinator of the Social Service Worker Program, who will be leading the project in collaboration with her colleague Ian Degeer.

“This work will open doors to improvements in the field by developing the Wellness Toolkit as a best practice resource that will help staff at Interval House of Hamilton and other organizations,” says Sue Taylor, Executive Director of Interval House of Hamilton.

Mohawk College’s Centre for Emerging Research Initiatives has received federal funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Partnership Engage Grant program to support this research project with the women’s shelter.

The grant provides support for Mohawk College researchers to study the impact of COVID-19 on Interval House of Hamilton social service providers’ well-being and ability to perform their work, with a focus on understanding how factors such as stress impact ethical decision-making. The data collected from the research will be used by the college team to develop the Wellness Toolkit, a resource document that will offer helpful self-care practices and enhance their best ethical decision-making efforts.

The research team will include four student researchers from Mohawk’s Social Service Workers Program, who will gain hands-on experience working on applied research as part of the project.

“Another important component of this project is student participation, as they support the process and learn the ins and outs of applied research in this field,” continued Sager. “Our hope is to build their competency and create interest in this area of academia. We strongly feel that this is an important component of the project.”

The Partnership Engage Grant offered by SSHRC in Canada helps researchers and partners from different sectors collaborate to solve societal problems and create benefits for society. The grant provides up to $25,000 for one year to support these collaborations. This grant is important because it encourages researchers and stakeholders to work together, share knowledge, and come up with new solutions to difficult issues faced by communities in Canada.

“We are grateful to receive the Partnership Engage Grant,” says Andrea Johnson, General Manager of Centre of Emerging Research Initiatives at IDEAWORKS in Mohawk College. “This grant will help further our collaboration with Interval House of Hamilton to explore the COVID-19-related challenges of social service providers and its impact on their well-being and ethical decision-making.”