Innovative Technology-Enhanced Social Work Service Promoted Resilience, Community Bonds, and Green Lifestyle during COVID-19

Hanna Wang
February 12, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated social workers to reconsider and transform traditional forms of service delivery. A new publication in Qualitative Social Work evaluated how “Garden on the Balcony,” an innovative social work service, provided rapid response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing. The research team includes Yixuan Wang, Qin Gao, Fei Pei, Yi Wang, and three frontline social workers from the Beijing Zhong Qing Social Work Development Center - Zhen Cheng, Ji Zhang, and Yang Wu.

Garden on the Balcony (GOB) is an internet-based 21-day social work service featuring indoor microgardening. GOB aims to strengthen individual resilience and family cohesion, increase community bonding, and foster hope during a crisis. Participants were provided with information on how to garden at home and expected to ‘check in’ through a virtual ‘punch card’ in order to motivate participation and keep track of their progress. Social workers asked for garden updates in the online community every day and held an interactive activity every week.

The article examines the outcomes and impacts of GOB and explores the challenges of technology-enhanced social work services. The results showed that GOB enhanced resilience and cohesion, extended an online collaborative and supportive community to offline neighborhoods, and encouraged a green lifestyle and spiritual reflection on life. The authors called for more efforts to develop interventions and conduct evaluations to expand the evidence base and inform social work practices in different settings.

Read the Article: Innovative technology-enhanced social work service during COVID-19: How ‘Garden on the Balcony’ promoted resilience, community bonds and a green lifestyle

Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy