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The Voice of the Social Work Profession
Release of the First Report from the Premier's Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine
Original Press Release January 31, 2019 through
"We applaud the Premier's Council for its first report, which identifies the barriers within Ontario's health care system that lead to hallway health care and stand in the way of people getting the care they need," said Joan MacKenzie Davies, CEO, OASW. " We concur with the Council that patients and families are having difficulties navigating the health care system and are waiting too long for care. This is a problem that can and must be addressed."
Social workers play a vital role in assisting patients and their caregivers to access the right care, at the right time and in the right place. They are unique among health care professionals because they are trained to consider a person within the context of their families, workplaces and communities, as well as the connection between personal problems and the impact those problems can have on a patient's complex needs. This training has a direct impact on reducing hallway health care.
The report identified that Ontarians often turn to Emergency Departments for help with mental health and addictions issues that could have been more quickly and appropriately dealt with through primary care or community mental health and addictions services. Social workers can help address this challenge. A recent study demonstrated that by placing social workers in Emergency Departments of high volume hospitals during peak hours, they were able to identify and re-direct those with non-urgent care needs, particularly those living with mental health and addictions concerns, to more appropriate services in the community. This resulted in an estimated 1,700 inpatient days avoided and $1.4 million in annual cost savings across two hospital sites and most importantly, improved patient care.
"Through innovative solutions such as the placement of social workers in Emergency Departments, social workers can have a direct impact on reducing hallway health care," concluded MacKenzie Davies. "Ontario's social workers look forward to working with both the Premier's Council and the government, as they identify ways to improve and better integrate the health and community care systems for Ontario patients."
OASW is a voluntary, bilingual, non-profit association representing approximately 5,500 social workers. All members have a university degree in social work at the bachelor, master or doctoral level. OASW works to actively speak on behalf of social workers on issues of interest to the profession and advocates for the improvement of social policies and programs directly affecting social work practice and client groups served.