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A social worker’s job is made easier and more efficient through the use of technology even though a greater part of their work is face-to-face with clients. In a world where technology use is constantly growing social workers need to adapt to these required tools and systems. Technology is of great importance when it comes to managing schedules, projects, records and sharing information. This paper aims to look at how technology assisted social work aids the following social workers:
Facilitators usually help people understand their common objectives and assist them to plan how to achieve these objectives can be met.
When a facilitator works with many other people, there arises a need to be in communication with each person. Clients also need access to various types of information and assistance and technology has succeeded in providing the required avenue to transfer this information seamlessly. For instance, a facilitator may decide to send an email to his clients, have a voice call or even a video call. With the use of systems like Boomerang on Gmail, he can schedule his messages, create a canned response to send to several people at any required time and even set your email to send a reminder if your client doesn’t reply in a number of days.
Efficient Record Keeping
Technology has also provided social workers systems to use for record keeping so they no longer need to have stacks of papers and files in their offices. Most of the time these data can be assessed by anyone with the right and access to see these details. In this way, technology assists social workers in keeping records safe and accessible to those who need it without much bureaucracy.
Online Resources (e-Therapy and e- Interventions)
Users have a website to interact with each other by exchanging tips and discussing topics related to a certain theme. While digital health services are not for everyone since some people prefer face to face dialogues and do not feel confident about using technology, some people may also be reluctant to seek help either because of concerns about social stigma or because of a preference to self-manage their symptoms. With those facing difficulties in coming for assistance, an online resource like e-therapy can serve as first step in aiding people.
Mediator is a person who facilitates communication between the parties and helps the mediation participants reach a mutually satisfactory solution. A mediator is neither a judge nor an arbitrator.
Exchange of Information
The process of mediation starts with a first phone call or email to suggest mediation. Any available background materials (eg. relevant contracts) and a mediation statement are usually sent as PDF attachments to the mediator’s email and other parties.
Taking and storing client notes
Rather than maintain a collection of handwritten notes, social workers use electronic systems for efficiently tracking and retaining data. This data could be maintained through the use of spread sheets among others.
According to Encarta Dictionary, an advocate is somebody who supports or speaks in favour of something or somebody such as a lawyer who pleads another’s case in a legal forum. Below are some of the ways technology aids an advocate in his work:
Social Networking Sites
Advocates can easily invite friends or fans to a group to discuss a particular cause and to write social media posts. Social networking sites also serve as a source of information for advocates.
Increase Public Awareness
Successful advocacy results from people changing how they think about an issue. Through SMS, WhatsApp messages, investigative journalism, posting of podcast among others, an advocate can successfully communicate his cause and shape some attitude of his audience towards it.
Social workers interested in a particular issue can easily find collections of lectures archived by schools and written by other scholars. Social workers can subscribe to specific news feeds like RSS feeders to access news articles in their area of practice.
A social worker must constantly learn more and increase his knowledge. He no longer needs to sit in a lecture hall to achieve this goal but can apply for online studies to further his studies in any field he wishes to focus on.
Social workers employed as administrative supervisors oversee the operation of their agencies or departments. They may hold titles such as clinical director, social services manager or administrative supervisor.
Clinical supervision is integral to continuing professional development of health professionals. With advances in technology, clinical supervision too can be undertaken using mediums such as videoconference, email and teleconference.
Broadly disseminating information – Innovative communication tools make distributing information among caregivers and social service agencies easier than ever. Google Docs and Google Sheets allow multiple users from unlimited locations to access documents, comment and share information. Also smart apps like Trello, Basecamp, Slack and other similar sites help keep social workers organized and have the added benefit of facilitating communication among groups of people who share resources but not necessarily locations.
Monitoring Team Performance
Technology helps in monitoring team performance. Social workers in this role sometimes act as team leaders and coaches who try to increase staff motivation and morale. They might do this by leading informal staff meetings to discuss non-clinical issues or by leading stress management workshops which may be accompanied with assistance from technology through the use of presentations among others.
Cloud Systems and the Use of Data Base Applications
Google, for instance, provides a set of office-related applications like Google Docs that can do word processing, Google Sheets for spread sheets, presentations and Google Keep for To-do lists and setting reminders based on time and location. These applications do not need to be installed or upgraded, all they require is internet access.
Backup and Recovery
Backups can easily be done and data recovered if lost. Social workers who move their work onto technological systems are saved the risk of losing data in the event of a fire, flood and any other situations that could cause the loss of hard copies of documents.
Conducting counselling sessions
Internet technology and live chat platforms such as Facetime and Skype make meetings much easier because they do not require a social worker to be travel to the venue of a meeting. Social workers can speak to clients anywhere in the world through the use of these platforms.
Case management serves as a means for achieving client wellness, advocacy, communication, education, identification of service resources and service facilitation. Case managers usually help people who are in difficult situations with advice and create plans for treatment and recovery. Some of the ways that technology aided social work helps case managers are through the use of:
Case management software help case managers provide better care, save money, and provide a repository of data that can be used for research and analysis. They capture all their interventions, document care processes, comprehensive assessments, and produce reports that track everything.
Note taking applications hold records of interactions with clients and persons relevant to a given case or incident. When case notes are well written they provide accurate and objective descriptions.
Technology provides case managers a system to fill out forms for clients, create invoices, insurance billing, client statements and schedules. These aid the case manager in streamlining his work making him faster and more efficient.
Case managers can share individual care plans with their patients on the patient portal. It also allows them prepare medication lists and diagnoses. They can also provide patients with educational materials and reminders to fill prescriptions, take medications, and schedule follow-up visits.
Engaging in social work with technology is not intended to replace traditional efforts such as face to face meetings but rather enhance them. It is quite evident that in social work one of the most important aspects is communiation and technology has served that aspect well by creating a first step for assistance which can thereafter be accompanied by face to face meetings or online conversations like Skype, whichever is suitable for the client or patient. In view of this, it is important that social workers adapt to the changes in technology to enable them be always accessible to their clients.
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