Virtual Social Work Interventions: The effectivity of alternate methods

Ms Kellie Young1

1Gold Coast Health – Social Work Dept, Gold Coast, Australia

COVID-19 stimulated Gold Coast Health (GCH) Social Work Services to consider alternate methods of service delivery due to the uncertainty of the feasibility of face-to-face interventions in a COVID-19 context, including ensuring consumers could continue to receive social work services but also that staff had the ability to continue to participate in meaningful work.

The primary aim of this trial was to explore the efficacy and effectiveness of alternate methods of social work service delivery if face-to-face interventions were not possible.

A 3-day trial of the inpatient Acute Medial Unit was conducted offering interventions via telephone and Skype for Business. A Guide to Working Virtually was developed to support staff participating in the trial.

Staff unable to attend their usual place of work also participated in this trial. An evaluation was completed by each social worker involved, outlining experiences of the social worker, ward/team involved (via Social Work questioning), and patient/family.

The inpatient expectation was that face-to-face intervention would be provided and were less adaptive to alternate methods; whereas patients and family members were more receptive.

Discussion / Implications
This project has identified that alternate methods of service delivery can be effective with particular patient cohorts, however in acute settings, with predominately an older cohort, face-to-face service is preferred. Further trials could be undertaken to determine other areas where these methods are effective.


Kellie Young is the acting Clinical Educator of Social Work for Gold Coast Health. Kellie has an extensive knowledge of Hospital Social Work and been involved in Clinical Education in more recent years. Kellie enjoys extending her knowledge to identify contemporary ways to approach Social Work practice in Health.

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