Mainly in response to the policy drive to avoid unnecessary acute hospital admissions and delayed discharge on social grounds, there has been a gradual development of social work services attached to emergency departments (EDs) in the UK. In the absence of a clearly articulated evidence base or debate about the roles of ED attached social workers, a model of ED based social work practice and indicative supporting evidence is presented. It is argued that social workers may be able to contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of hospital services while providing a key point of access to social care services. A number of obstacles remain to the implementation of this model of service, including the narrow focus of current social care practice, the hours that a social work service is normally provided, chronic under-funding, and continuing perverse incentives in the health and social care system. More systematic evidence in the UK context is needed to support the case for change.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine