Scope, context and intervention: an audit of 554 mental health and health social workers in Victoria, Australia.

Professor Lynette Joubert

Professor of Social Work in the Department of Social Work at the University of Melbourne.

Abstract:

Health and mental health social workers have a long-standing, hundred-year history of engagement in health settings. We will report on an innovative audit named the Evidencing Social Work in health and mental health study which has provided a comprehensive data source for current practice and its relevance to improving care.

The aim of this study was to provide evidence of the role of social workers from 17 health social work departments in Victoria, Australia. A dataset of over 10,000 items relating to social work practice was provided by 554 health and mental health social workers from both metropolitan and regional hospitals.

The Methodology adopted a practice research perspective and was developed as a co-created design with social work managers. The social workers audited their practice over a time-window of 24 hours.

The Results will be presented in relation to four primary areas ie workforce, scope of practice, context of service and competencies and skills management.

Social Work adds value to health systems though not only focusing on patient and family interventions but advocating for positive change and increased health literacy. Data from the audit undertaken for this study has informed a model of care for social work in health and mental health with defined professional competencies. In this audit, patients presented with 88 different types of issues and benefitted from 29 different types of interventions. The findings of this audit are relevant in relation to the professional position of social work in health and mental health.

Biography:

Lynette Joubert is a Professor of Social Work in the Department of Social Work at the University of Melbourne.  She is an honorary professor at the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre and senior social work academic at NorthWest Mental Health.  She is Chair of the Practice Research Unit in the Department of Social Work and has a particular interest in promoting practice research through academic practitioner partnerships.  Her national and international research focus is characterised by evidencing the contribution made by social work to better outcomes for service users in health and mental health.