Clinical Priorities: Strengthening Social Work Practice in Health
In the context of health services, decisions regarding priorities for social work intervention and, hence, the allocation of social work expertise and resources have traditionally been based on an interaction between social work knowledge, principles and skills, historical precedence, health policy, multidisciplinary team requirements, and manager opinion. In the current context of health services, traditional practices are questioned and it has become essential for social work as a profession to clarify its role, its choice of interventions, and to state clearly and strongly, on the basis of social work knowledge, its core priorities for practice and, hence, the allocation of resources. This paper presents the findings of an exploratory study, undertaken by joint university and practice collaboration, designed to develop a set of priorities for social work practice in health. The study was undertaken in the Hunter Health region of New South Wales, Australia, where social workers are employed across a range of hospital, mental health, specialist, and community services. The resulting set of clinical priorities for social work practice in health has implications for the allocation of social work resources and expertise to the social issues central in individual family and community health status, and for the profession's capacity to strengthen the role of social work in health.
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