The Medical Social Worker (MSW) is part of the multidisciplinary healthcare team, providing interventions to support patients and their families during recovery from and/or adjustment to illnesses. Patients' recovery and quality of life hinge upon the ability of the patient and family to cope and adjust to the impact of the illness and ensuing disability on their lifestyle, finances, employment and relationships. Poor adjustments and coping indicated by poor mental well-being can have profound impact on health and productivity. Medical Social Workers help patients and their families learn how to manage life crises due to acute or chronic medical conditions, and focus on improving their mental and physical well-being. They also help reduce the burden of patients and families from incurred social and healthcare costs.
The core functions of MSWs include:
Psychosocial assessment - assessing strength and resilience of the patient, family, and social support systems to help the individual function within the community.
Family education and mediation-educating the family on the physical and psychosocial needs of its members and ways they can access internal and external resources, as well as mediating familial conflicts
Counselling for individuals, couples and families-for situations in which patients suffer from poor mental health states (e.g. depression, anxiety), and coping and adjustment difficulties (e.g. due to loss of limb through amputation, loss of hearing, or caring for family members suffering from dementia)
Risk assessment - assessing risk of self-harm (eg suicide) and to others (eg family violence, elder abuse, child abuse).
Financial assessment and fund management - identifying and referring cases for financial assistance
Discharge Planning -working together with medical, nursing and other allied health staff, patients and their families to develop and implement the post discharge care plan
Information & Referral Services - linking patients and caregivers to community resources.
Where can I get more information about the Medical Social Work profession?
The Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) is the local professional association for medical social workers. All medical social workers who are members of SASW are automatically members of the MSW Chapter. For self regulation, they are voluntarily registered with the Association. You can find out more about Medical Social Work in Singapore, by contacting the SASW at 67787922 or email@example.com. Find out more about what it’s like to be a MSW!
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The allied health practitioner may not be able to conduct the full range of services/activities listed above, as his/her scope of practice depends on the level of training, experience and competence attained. The onus is on the employer and the practitioner to ensure that all services/activities are conducted within the scope of competence of the respective practitioner.