Social Work Practice in Home Health Care

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Typically, clinical social workers supervise and consult with professional colleagues and may engage in indirect practice e. It is a standard of practice for clinical social workers to engage in career-long continuing clinical education and to adhere to a professional code of ethics. Toggle navigation.


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Discounted Liability Insurance for Diplomates. Social workers' skilled use of mediation techniques can help to resolve disagreements that sometimes arise in healthcare settings.

Care and Psychosocial Support Coordinators

Their sensitivity to ethnic and cultural diversity can be particularly helpful when there is a clash between patients' and families' ethnically or culturally based values and prevailing ethical norms, policies, and healthcare practices e. Bioethical issues in healthcare settings present social workers with complex challenges Reamer, , Some of these ethical issues pertain to specific medical conditions. Examples include ethical dilemmas related to a family's decision about withdrawal of a patient's life support, abortion following a rape, organ transplantation, the use of restraints with a noncompliant psychiatric patient, or a patient's decision to refuse neuroleptic medication.

When such issues arise, social workers often serve as important intermediaries in relationships among patients, their families, and healthcare professionals. In these instances, social workers help patients and their families make difficult personal decisions, facilitate communication among members of the healthcare team, advocate on a patient's or family's behalf, or raise policy issues that need to be addressed by a hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center.

Other bioethical issues concern the nature of relationships and transactions between social workers and patients or their families. For example, social workers in healthcare settings must be familiar with privacy and confidentiality norms that govern relationships with patients and families.

They must also be sensitive to complex ethical issues involving patients' right to self-determination, informed consent procedures, truth telling, professional paternalism, and whistleblowing Loewenberg and Dolgoff; Reamer, In particular, social workers can clarify differences among the ethical obligations that guide various professions. For example, social workers in a healthcare setting can help clarify the ethical responsibilities of various professionals when staff suspect child abuse or that a patient with AIDS poses a threat to a third party.

Healthcare social workers are also involved in discussion and formulation of the ethical aspects of healthcare policy and administration. This may take several forms. Social workers may participate as members of institutional ethics committees IECs that discuss ethically complex cases and policies.

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They may have a particularly valuable perspective because of their extensive contact with patients and their families and can, therefore, contribute to discussions about, for example, resuscitation guidelines, patients' right to refuse treatment, advance directives, organ transplantation, treatment of severely impaired infants, and the privacy rights of AIDS patients.

Similarly, social workers are active participants on institutional review boards IRBs that examine a variety of ethical issues in research on human subjects. In addition, social workers may be involved in discussions about the ethical aspects of healthcare financing mechanisms and cost-containment measures. They may also propose ways to advocate on patients' behalf or to advocate for policy reform that may provide a more just allocation of scarce healthcare resources at the local, national, or international level.

Social Work in Healthcare

An example is social workers' participation on a hospital committee to assess the pressure to limit care provided to, and hasten discharge of, psychiatric patients covered under managed care programs operated by private insurers. In these instances, social workers may help identify the psychosocial consequences of various strategies to allocate limited healthcare resources. As a profession, social work has its formal origins in nineteenth-century concern about the poor, and is an out-growth of the pioneering work of charity organization societies and settlement houses, primarily in England and the United States Brieland; Leiby.

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Thus, social workers are inclined to be attentive to the needs of low-income, culturally diverse, and oppressed patients and families. Although contemporary social workers provide services to individuals and families at all points on the socioeconomic spectrum, the profession continues to have an abiding concern for the disadvantaged. As a result, social workers in healthcare settings are alert to ethical issues that involve such populations as low-income patients, abused children and elders, women, refugees and immigrants, substance abusers, ethnic minorities, and gay or lesbian individuals.

What Does a Medical Social Worker Do? | OLLU Online

Concern about such vulnerable groups—for example, with respect to their access to healthcare, their privacy rights, or discrimination against them by healthcare providers—is one of social work's principal hallmarks. Social workers may advocate for individual patients and families whose rights are threatened or who are victims of institutional abuse or discrimination. They also may advocate for public policy that will enhance protection of the rights of these populations.

Like all healthcare professionals, in order to participate fully in discussions of bioethical issues and dilemmas, social workers need specialized knowledge and training. This may involve offering counseling or therapy. Social workers in medical settings sometimes treat or even diagnose psychological conditions. To read a first hand account of a healthcare social worker visit: The Medical Social Worker: Following patient interactions in the healthcare system.

A BSW will have a more limited range of duties, for example, discharge planning. Many times licensure by a state board of social work will be required for employment in medical settings.

There are multiple specialties available. A concentration in clinical social work would be appropriate. Sometimes there is an opportunity to select health as a practice area.

The MSW program helps prepare students to enter the general or clinical practice role in most states. Capella also offers an online Doctor of Social Work. All programs include a fieldwork component. A student with a health concentration could expect to spend time interning in a health facility.