Being one of only two health providers in Victoria that offer a Social Work service within the Hospital In The Home program, Northern Health demonstrates the value of this unique service for both the consumer and the organisation via a case study

Ms Teresa Giompapa1, Mr Birat Sharma1

1Northern Health, Epping, Australia

Northern Health’s Hospital In The Home (HITH) service provides the opportunity for patients to continue their hospital treatment in the comfort of their own home. Care in a familiar environment has been demonstrated to improve patient outcomes including fewer complications and increased patient and carer satisfaction. HITH also reduces length of stay and re-admission rates. Furthermore, HITH allows the health service to vacate a hospital bed and admit another patient requiring admission.

Commonly, the HITH team comprises of Medical Registrars, Pharmacists, Community Nurses and some Allied Health professionals (primarily Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Dieticians). Northern Health’s HITH service is exclusive, as it also has an allocated Social Worker within the team.

Social Work within HITH provides patients with complex social issues the opportunity to continue receiving their Social Work service after leaving the hospital. It is also an opportunity for any emerging psycho-social issues to be addressed without compromising a discharge and/or increasing length of stay.

As a result of a benchmarking study conducted by Northern Health to compare the role of Social Work within HITH across eleven major health providers in Victoria, it was discovered that Northern Health was one of ONLY two hospitals out of the eleven who provided Social Work within HITH.

This incidental finding has now enabled Northern Health to reveal how valuable and beneficial this unique role is to the consumer as well as to the organisation. Through a case study, Northern Health will demonstrate how this asset can be an opportunity for all health providers to advocate for the inclusion of Social Work within the HITH service.


Teresa Giompapa completed a Bachelor Degree in Social Work in 1994 from RMIT and worked for DHHS for 20 years before commencing in health Social Work in 2014 at Northern Health. Teresa continues to engage in clinical work as well as manage acute and ambulatory Social Workers. She is passionate about achieving best outcomes for her patients and received the Allied Health Excellence Award for Compassionate Care in 2018.

Birat Sharma completed a Bachelor in Public Health in Nepal in 2006 and worked in Community Projects before moving to Australia in 2008. Birat completed a Master Degree in Social Work in 2012 from RMIT and worked for Refugee and Asylum Seekers for 5 years before commencing at Northern Health in 2017. He is passionate about improving the health needs of the community, especially newly arrived migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

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