What is an emergency social worker to do when a patient without health insurance arrives in a psychotic state, desperately needing inpatient psychiatric hospitalization
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For this week’s assignment, utilize the NASW Practice Standards for health care settings that were included in this week’s resources. Social workers understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards, as well as relevant laws and regulations that may impact practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Review and analyze this document, and then prepare a critical analysis of the following:
Considering what you have read in your other assigned readings this week, explore the relevancy of the Practice Standards in today’s ever-changing field of health care. Also, explain if the Standards reflect the variety of roles that social work has in health care. Provide evidence to support your answer.
If you were a newly graduated MSW who was entering the profession as a hospital social worker on an intensive care unit, allocate standards that would be your strengths, and then explain why. Which standards would you need to strengthen? Think of how social workers enact interventions to help clients resolve issues when formulating your response.
Social Work’s Diverse Roles in the Health Care System
In this week’s readings, you will examine how the United States health care system is ever-changing and how social work’s role within this system has also evolved. Traditionally, social workers in health care were typically found in hospital settings completing discharge planning or working as a behavioral health professional in an inpatient psychiatric unit. Today, social workers are still located in these settings, but they have also taken on roles in home health care, primary and community health clinics, and public health departments. Social workers can choose to work in micro social work roles, such as case managers, discharge planners, crisis counselors, behavioral health practitioners and consultants, and more. They can also choose a macro role such as lobbyist, program director, clinic manager, or public health coordinator. The opportunities are extensive and will likely continue to grow as America’s population continues to age and thus utilize a variety of health care services (Social Work Policy Institute, 2012).
One paramount issue in health care is cost containment. So, how can the health care system meet the needs of its patients in a cost-effective manner? America’s health care system has found social workers to be an integral part of this issue. This is because social workers are trained in a variety of professional skills that can be utilized in many settings within the health care system. The system has also found social workers to be more affordable to employ compared to psychologists, physicians, and other traditional professions within the medical field. For example, social workers can be used for mental health assessment and crisis intervention in an emergency room, thus replacing a doctoral level psychologist or even psychiatrist, in some cases. A social worker would be just as capable but would cost significantly less to hire. The issue of just how far the health care system can take advantage of social workers’ skills and maximize patient benefit and cost containment has been the focus of an increasing number of research studies (Social Work Policy Institute, 2012; Steketee, Ross, & Wachman, 2017).
With today’s medical system focused on cost containment, a common ethical challenge for social workers is balancing patient needs with the health care system’s desire for cost containment. What is an emergency social worker to do when a patient without health insurance arrives in a psychotic state, desperately needing inpatient psychiatric hospitalization? Unfortunately, challenges such as this are commonplace for social workers in this field. Thus, it is critical for professionals to lean upon the NASW Code of Ethics and the NASW Standards for Social Work Practice in Health Care Settings for guidance.
This week, you will learn about the NASW Standards, and in Week 2, you will further examine the Code of Ethics. As you will see in your readings, health care social workers will often find themselves caught between advocating for the needs of patients while also being responsible to funding sources. This will be a challenge when working with oppressed and marginalized populations who need health care services. In these cases, social workers often stand alone among their multidisciplinary colleagues. Given social workers training in the person-in-environment perspective and advocacy, they make the perfect resource for those patients who experience unequal access to medical and behavioral health care services (Spencer, Walters & Clapp, 2016).
Be sure to review this week’s resources carefully. You are expected to apply the information from these resources when you prepare your assignments.
Readings from this week: