March is National Social Work Month
By Guest Blogger Raine Arndt-Couch, JD, MSW, LCSW, CCM, National Board Director, The Case Management Society of America
National Social Work Month is dedicated to celebrating social workers and increasing public awareness about the diverse roles social workers play in a wide variety of practice settings. Summarizing the key impacts social workers make in these settings is not simple. But one thing is clear and highlighted by this year’s Social Work Month theme: Social Workers Break Barriers.
Though not always recognized as such, social workers in healthcare-related settings play a critical role as case management professionals. They provide coordination of care, disease management and health promotion, behavioral health interventions, and address barriers to access to healthcare for individuals in need. This includes serving in health-related settings across the continuum of care such as inpatient medical and behavioral health hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health, hospice, medical and behavioral health outpatient clinics, and health plan settings.
The Case Management Society of America (CMSA) facilitates the growth and development of all professional case managers – including social workers – who serve in roles across the full healthcare continuum, by offering resources and support to facilitate high quality, ethical practice that benefits patients and their families. CMSA acknowledges social workers’ vital ability to break barriers by:
- Serving as a patient advocate, taking a person-in-environment approach that promotes whole person care. Through this approach, social workers mitigate the practice silos and health access challenges present in current-day healthcare settings by facilitating care between and across settings.
- Working collaboratively to connect individuals to a variety of support and services, which involves coordination with other health and human services professionals including: physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, caregivers, and those working in community-based organizations, governmental agencies, and legal settings.
- Keenly assessing comprehensive psychosocial needs and demonstrating subject matter expertise in addressing the social determinants of health resulting in improved health outcomes. This includes identifying social and financial-related needs and facilitating connection to applicable available resources such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, veterans disability benefits, and other governmental programs.
While social workers serve in capacities well beyond those noted above, one thing remains true: social workers break barriers every day to ensure individuals have access to the resources they need to achieve or restore health and live their healthiest lives possible. Happy Social Work Month!