Respond to at least two different colleagues postings in one or more of the following ways:
- Provide a constructive critique of your colleagues post about the three specific roles.
- Suggest different perspectives of the interventions your colleagues described for the three specific issues.
There are many roles as a medical social worker that play into effect for the effectiveness of treatment for each client. For this discussion, I am going to focus on the three roles of advocator, educator and discharge planner, and the crisis management team. These are roles that I find inspiring and rewarding as they each have the capability to take on many roles between the transient services offered, as well as play an impactful role in the lives of each client and their individual needs. Each role has developed a competence and understanding of available resources and ways in which to best implement. The advocator is able to take steps to see progress that is unique to each client and their needs to occur. The discharge planning processor envisions the fruit of the treatment having taken place so far, and allows future options to be made available. Crisis management is flexible and able to play many ‘hat’s’ that aid in the unknown and unpredictable.
These three roles directly support clients and their families because they are able to empathize and educate the family on options and resources. As an advocate, according to the National Association for Social Workers, one would “promote system-level change to improve outcomes, access to care, and delivery to services…(2016)” for each different population. In reference to medical social work, this role helps those at a disadvantage, such as a marginalized population or client encountering something for the first time. It allows mediation of understanding options and implementing a support system for the client, in a way that improves their quality of life. The educator and discharge planning social work roles tag off the advocator to assure next steps are being implemented in the most effective way possible. It allows the client to not have to figure things out on their own. The crisis management in a medical social worker role, permits a professional to intervene with the full competency of what is occurring and what needs to be done so as to best improve the quality of the client in crisis.
These three roles, advocator, educator, and crisis management, directly address the issues of treatment in unique ways. They allow mediation between the family and medical staff, compliance with appointments, treatment, and arrangement of services, and an understanding of available and recommended resources. Specific interventions to apply to these issues in each role are wide. For instance, the advocator intervenes to assure all needs and interests of the client and their support system are being met (National, 2016). Further, they promote access to health care, identify services, and help the client navigate the health care services implementation (National, 2016). The educator acts as the implementor of understanding what the advocator has made available to the client. A social worker in the medical setting helps to coordinate appointments and appropriate treatment. The crisis management individual acts in moments of crisis when things are overwhelming or chaotic, they offer a fresh perspective in their readily available resources and competence. These may be required to drop all they are doing so as to address the immediate situation with adeptness and responsibility of intervening. I value how though there are many roles a social worker can play, they all aid one another and are present and developing competence so as to give each unique individual the best quality of treatment that they can provide.
The social work profession plays a leadership role in the medical field by addressing the psychosocial aspects of healthcare (NASW, 2016). While there are various roles that medical social workers assume in their daily routine, three that I have chosen to narrow it down to and consider to be both inspiring and rewarding are case management, discharge planning, and the cooperation and collaboration of working amongst an interdisciplinary team of professionals. These particular roles rank amongst the most critical of medical social workers working in healthcare settings (Beder, 2006; Gehlert & Browne, 2019). These particular roles are inspiring and rewarding to me due to the fact that if performed efficiently and effectively they focus from a whole patient perspective and cover various bases from initial assessment with the patient (case management) to follow up care/referrals (discharge planning) and crucial processes addressing the patients particular physiological, psychological, and socioeconomic needs (transdisciplinary team) in between.
According to Beder (2006) case management and discharge planning are amongst two of the most common roles assumed by social workers working in a hospital or health care setting. When looking at case management it provides direct support to patients as well as their families through a thorough assessment of the patient and family needs and based on those needsreferring and linking the patient and/or their family to appropriate services and other resources (Gehlert & Browne, 2019). According to the NASW (2016) Standards for Social Work Practice in Health Care Settings, case management is a collaborative process that covers various areas of service for clients, such as identifying, seeking, planning, advocating for, accessing, as well as the monitoring of resources, services, and supports on behalf of a patient. Often times when working in a health care setting patients need the services of various different health care providers or facilities, as well as may require services from social service agencies, community-based organizations, or other types of programs that the social work professional can coordinate for the patient as well as any services needed for the family.
When looking at the collaboration of working as a part of an interdisciplinary team of professionals it provides patients and their families with the best service through a collaboration of multiple professionals and types of skills and knowledge applied to the service and intervention for the patient and their family (Beder, 2006). The different makeups of an interdisciplinary team are typically dictated by the particular unit based on the needs of clients seen at the particular type of facility and services offered. Within the interdisciplinary team an assessment of the clients problems as well as needs are shared amongst the team of professionals as well as any relevant information or teachings pertaining to the client are shared amongst the team so that ethical decision making can be applied and the development of a tailored intervention plan can be developed, along with the delegation of duties and responsibilities amongst the various professional roles, and an overall evaluation of patient outcomes (Beder, 2006; Gehlert & Browne, 2019). The social work professional will bring forth a broad-based understanding of the patients family and community influences as well as focus on the psychological and social factors in the patients life (NASW, 2016).
Lastly, transition and discharge planning are crucial roles of medical social workers working in health care settings (NASW, 2016) and ensuring a safe discharge and care continuity is of the upmost importance. Working with the patient and their family or friends, the social worker is responsible for providing the patient and family with education of what is to be expected for the duration of the hospital stay as well as post discharge from the facility and incorporating the development, planning, and coordination of connection to resources within the community that may be necessary to ensure continuity of care for the patient after they are discharged (Beder, 2006). Beder (2006) points out that discharge planning amongst social workers consists of assisting patients and their families in coping with the illness and its effects while moving through the hospital system as smoothly as possible with a goal of returning to the comfort of their own home and community with the necessary supports and resources to sustain their health and well-being and avoid rehospitalization.
Two major issues related to patient care are how HMOs and DRGs drastically affected how medical social workers and those practicing in health care settings practiced. According to Gehlert and Browne (2019), HMOs presented restrictions with social workers being able to practice based on their own needs assessment while DRGs caused limitations to the amount of time that social workers had to work with clients in a hospital setting and instead forced emphasis on faster discharges. However, through the utilization of task-centered case work, interdisciplinary teamwork, and efficient discharge planning clients are still able to receive adequate care as well as be referred for necessary follow up treatment and care. Another common issue related to patient care can be navigating the existing complex medical terminology and course of treatment received from physicians/doctors. As medical social workers working very closely with the patient as well as their families helping to ensure that clients and members of their family thoroughly understand the complex medical terminology utilized by healthcare professionals as well as ensuring they have a concrete grasp on the discharge recommendations.
There will be several interventions and tactics implemented and utilized when performing the chosen primary roles listed above. Social workers can help patients to develop effective coping skills, as well as enhance their optimism and self-efficacy, all of which when working with chronically ill individuals, according to Gehlert and Browne, have been associated with an enhanced quality of life (2019). Also, utilizing a strengths-based and person-in-environment perspective with patients is necessary when performing the three primary roles previously mentioned. Regarding ensuring the patient and their family fully understood the extent of the condition or illness as well as discharge recommendations I would utilize patient/family education and break down complex terminology or jargon to ensure health literacy was maintained throughout the course of treatment.