The lived experience of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) support workers through the COVID-19 pandemic

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Bulmer, Sydney J.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Health Sciences
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Health Sciences
This phenomenological study explores the lived experience of support workers who have worked with clients with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through in-depth interviews with five support workers, the study aims to understand the extent to which working during the pandemic has impacted the support workers' experiences and their relationships with clients. The findings reveal that the pandemic brought numerous challenges, including the need for constant adaptation, limited ability to provide necessary support, and disruptions in routine and resources. Participants identified building rapport and trust as crucial aspects of successful relationships with their clients. The pandemic presented barriers to building trust with new clients, but pre-existing rapport mitigated some of these challenges. Clients with FASD experienced negative impacts on their well-being, including increased substance use, limited access to resources, and difficulties in maintaining self-care. Support workers faced unique challenges in advocating for the FASD population during the pandemic, stemming from limited knowledge and training on FASD, as well as disruptions in service provision and communication. Effective communication strategies and person-centered approaches were identified as essential in supporting clients with FASD. Support workers also faced significant mental health challenges, mirroring those experienced by other healthcare workers during the pandemic. This study contributes to the understanding of the experiences of support workers and clients with FASD during times of societal upheaval. The findings highlight the need for targeted interventions, enhanced training, and support systems to address the unique needs of this population. Practical implications include the importance of day-to-day adaptive strategies, fostering trust and rapport, effective communication, and supporting the mental well-being of support workers. Further research should explore long-term effects, evaluate interventions, and examine the experiences of clients with FASD themselves.
lived experiences , COVID-19 pandemic , FASD support workers , FASD clients , adult clients with FASD , support worker-client relationship