Building the knowledge for practice base in health social work

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The role of a social worker in an acute hospital trauma setting can be emotionally intense and complex. It is a fast-paced environment and there is a need to be prepared for any situation. There can be wide-ranging and far-reaching psychosocial implications for the injured person. In circumstances of major trauma admissions, the social worker meets with people when their world has suddenly been turned upside down. Traumatic events can bring people together; however, traumatic events can also exacerbate pre-existing social issues and place relationships under enormous strain. In this context the social worker’s role is to understand the biomedical aspects and assess the psychosocial factors at play, while working to contain the crisis, address issues and provide resources. This will be done amid all the demands of working in a hospital system.
Occasionally people may be admitted to hospital with injuries sustained due to either natural disasters (for example, bushfires and earthquakes) or man-made incidents that result in mass casualties and require coordinated specialist support; in these instances the psychological trauma can extend to whole communities.
Despite its challenges, working in the area of hospital trauma can also be very rewarding because the social worker is required to utilise the various dimensions of knowledge and theory of social work practice. This chapter is designed to provide an outline of the role of a hospital social worker in a trauma ward, from specific single issue interventions to the more complex work required. It includes an overview of the type of acute trauma reactions workers may be required to attempt to alleviate, and the support available to social workers. The latter is very important for career longevity and self-care.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Work Practice in Health
Subtitle of host publicationAn introduction to contexts, theories and skills
EditorsMelissa Petrakis
Place of PublicationCrows Nest NSW
PublisherAllen & Unwin
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-1-76029-451-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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