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2008 Social Work Day at the Capitol

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about social workers? A person who does psychotherapy? The person who made plans when your grandma was discharged from the hospital after she broke her hip? Someone who works with you when you can't pay your bills to the hospital, can't afford food or need to go on welfare? Someone who checked on the people who everyone thought were abusing kids? If you think about any of these things when you think about social workers, you are thinking about many of the roles social workers hold. But you aren't thinking about everything we do. In fact, you're only thinking of a few roles of social workers, not the actual values and goals of social workers.

According to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics

The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance
human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people,
with particular attention to the needs and empowerment
of people who are
vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and
defining feature of social work is the profession's focus on
individual well-being in a social context and the well-being
of society.

Source

Basically, this means that social workers have a goal of helping to make lives better in multiple different ways. We try to mean the basic needs of all people, and to give people the resources to empower themselves. Sometimes, that means that we discharge someone from the hospital with plans of how they will continue to get better (going to a nursing home), meet basic needs (getting meals on wheels set up) and dealing with the stresses of illness (setting them u with relaxation exercises to manage pain and giving them the phone number to a clinic which provides services on a sliding scale structure of payment). It might mean that we teach parents about responsible parenting, or if we absolutely have to, it might mean that we remove children from an unsafe home. So yes, many of these typical expectations of what social workers do are true. But they aren't the whole story.

Last Monday, I got to be a part of another aspect of the social work profession. I got to work on a mezzo and a macro level of social work practice. I got to work on a community and society level of social work. As part of my groupwork class, we've been preparing (in groups), to spend a day at the capitol. On Monday, we did just that. To be fair, the morning was spent at a nearby site, where we learned about issues important to social workers. For me, and many others in my group, the issue of the day was healthcare.

We learned not only how we could improve healthcare, and make it more accessible to all, but also how others are working to make our communities more healthy. We discussed the legislation available. And we shared stories about our own experiences in healthcare. This issue is a very important one for me. And I'm truly hoping that we can, as social workers, improve the access to healthcare. One point which was made is that we're always talking about how we want choice in healthcare. I've said it. I still want it. But those of us who have access to health care forget that others can't even choose to get healthcare. They have no choice. At best, they have a choice between getting their medications or eating.

As a group, we met with a senator for a short amount of time. I felt like it was somewhat productive, but very short.

There's so much I could write. It really was a great experience. But in another entry, I will write about the negative aspect of the day, which I feel still needs to be voiced.

Comments

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brighid0704
Apr. 13th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
I really like the psychotherapy aspect of social work. The macro and meso levels really aren't for me.

It sounds like you had a neat experience though.
jenandbronze
Apr. 13th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
The only kind of social worker I've heard around here that I know of are related to those in the ministry of Family and Children in my area (that's how it is labeled in Canada, for each province). I don't know what ... oh yah, the ladies who deal (some are downright rude) people with disabilities with the financial aspect of things on income assistance (we call it ministry of employment and income assistance)... don't get me started on how disorganized they are at that office!
capricorn_sistr
Apr. 25th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
stuff they just don't know
have a choice between getting their medications or eating.

This is reality. Some folks just don't get it. We argue in our brains - what will it be today? I can get pain medication or a 99 cent loaf bread, some generic peanut butter and jelly... Tough choice?
( 3 shots of espresso — Add a shot of espresso )

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