Social Work is a profession that is based on helping individuals, groups, and communities in society. It empowers the people in the society to bring change into their lives, through development and access to strong resources. This profession revolves around human development and social, cultural, and economic factors that affect people, and helping them integrate seamlessly into society.
Social Work covers a broad spectrum of societal issues that are currently taking place in society. Homelessness, addiction, child services, and family counseling are just some of the many issues social workers focus on. They aim to increase human development by fulfilling the individual’s needs by working on their personal goals and well-being.
The importance of case management in social work cannot be overstated. It provides a detailed and organized process, consisting of several steps, to ensure that all important aspects are covered for fulfilling the individual’s needs and well-being. Case management in social work helps with assessing, planning, monitoring, and evaluating the services and possible options required for the client’s needs. Case management allows social workers to individually focus on a client and their family’s requirements to provide the best possible care and outcomes.
Also Read: Benefits of a case management system
To become a social worker an individual must possess a baccalaureate or advanced degree in social work from a university or program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. It should comply with the licensing and certification requirements of the state in which the individual plans to practice. The individual should also possess the skills and professional experience needed to practice as a social worker.
Social work case managers act according to their client’s personal beliefs, culture, religion, wishes, and needs. Case managers help clients and their families evaluate their options, determine what is best for the needs of the individual, implement the best possible options to achieve the individual’s goals and needs, and fulfill their expectations. Case managers act as an advocate for the client, therefore, they need to be efficient, effective, organized, and equitable when it comes to their work.
Also Read: What are the Four Levels of Case Management?
Social workers must analyze cases thoroughly to create optimal outcomes for their clients. To do so, they can rely on set theories to give them guidelines on how to operate and respond in the correlating situation. While there are many social work theories, here are a few examples and how they’re used to benefit clients.
Originally developed in the 1950s, Psychosocial Theory (also called “person-in-environment” theory) is one of the main tenets of social work. This centers on the idea that people develop their intrinsic selves based on their relationships and environment. So when they’re an adult, the coping strategies they’ve developed may directly relate to their past.
In this theory, there are eight stages of development that a person goes through:
With systems theory, the leading idea is that people do not learn something on their own. They are a product of a multitude of systems, such as religion, school, class, friends, and more. All of these impact how a person responds and learns to various conflicts. This can be most beneficial when understanding mental health issues such as anxiety and eating disorders.
This is not scientific, but transpersonal theory adds a holistic approach to social work and mental health practices. This theory considers the relationship of the body and the mind, and includes exercises such as meditation and mindfulness.
Rational choice theory outlines how people make decisions. The overall idea is that people think about what best serves them and make the decision based on the greatest benefit to themselves. This is commonly used in addiction treatment to highlight why an individual may be addicted and how to replace that reason with one that will help them quit.
Attachment theory explains the emotional bonds between two people, particularly for long-lasting relationships such as parent/child and romantic partners. The relationship developed at an early age between a child and the adults caring for them creates formative beliefs that affect the child for the rest of their life.
A child will cry, make eye contact, or smile to attach to their guardians. These give them confidence as they grow. If this attachment isn’t created, then children will start to lash out with maladaptive behaviors that curb natural emotional development.
There isn’t much of a difference between the two as case management goes hand in hand with social work. However, case managers focus more on the individual level and have a more client-oriented approach than social workers. Case managers have certain steps that they implement while dealing with a client.
For case management in social work, the following steps must be practiced to ensure a successful client is helped to completion of their needs, and that ongoing care is established.
Step 1. Client intake: A series of questions that helps the social workers start to understand the needs of the client. This can also include outreach to the client in advance.
Step 2. Needs Assessment: This outlines the needs of the client, and can include evaluations of physical and mental health needs.
Step 3. Service Plan: Take the information from the client intake and needs assessment to create a service plan to implement necessary services to transform their life.
Step 4. Coordinating and Monitoring: Social workers are there to advocate for clients and ensure they receive the resources they need. This phase ensures that the service plan is being acted out and monitors the individual’s progress.
Step 5. Evaluation: Assess the plan and see if changes need to be made.
Step 6. Case Termination: Once the desired results of the service plan have been achieved, the case can be terminated once it’s determined that no more services are needed.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) was founded in 1955 to “enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.” They offer tons of resources for current and aspiring social workers.
One of their most important pieces of work is the NASW standards outlined for optimum social work case management. Their case management tips for social workers are:
Case managers need to be organized. They’re required to fill out a lot of paperwork and keep a record of all the cases in an efficient and organized manner. Since the work that is done by case managers is very client-based it is essential that case managers effectively and efficiently keep track of their files and paperwork.
PlanStreet’s Case management software can increase efficiency and efficacy for the social work case management process as it consists of:
Organization: PlanStreet consists of intuitive data input for Medical documentation, case notes, demographics, shared data, youth tracking, and child welfare documents.
Compliance: Keeps confidential files/data safe and secure.
Increase Productivity: Automation and streamlining of processes free up administrative time to be used for on-the-ground time with clients and their families.
Virtual Centralization: one single, easily accessible place for everything the caseworkers need to access from the office, home, or in the field.
PlanStreet has created a case management software that specifically caters to social worker case management. They can efficiently organize their files and paperwork using PlanStreet’s case management software. The ability to look back over the history of cases for best practices can improve an organization’s effectiveness virtually overnight.
Furthermore, the confidentiality and safety of the files are given top priority as we know that client information is very sensitive and needs to be protected properly. This tool will make work easier for social work case managers in a highly systematic and coherent environment.