By Alyssa Lotmore
Social workers understand those most in need of, and at risk for, not getting adequate health care. However, we are rarely at the table in the policy and macro settings to help create policy/practice/research that contributes to well-being and health for communities. As the mindful facilitators of interdisciplinary practice, we must open the conversation to practical steps to ensure that customers of health care, especially those most marginalized have access to and receive preventative and on-going healthcare.
This chat topic was inspired by the Navigator Program, which is hosted by the University at Albany’s (SUNY) School of Social Welfare. In this program, MSW students are hired to assist individuals in navigating the health care enrollment system. They gain the perspective of a varied customer base – those from all socio-economic backgrounds and especially those who social workers would be most likely to serve. The students practice skills, such as interpersonal listening, open-ended interview, customer service, person-in-environment tools, policy to practice, outreach, and community organizing. They also learn a specific skill set about health insurance. All of these skills combined can provide these students with the ability to make a big difference on both the micro and macro side of social work in health care post-graduation.
From above, you see that social workers have the tools to make an impact at all levels in the healthcare system. We have the skills to work directly with individuals and our direct work allows us to see first-hand what policy change is needed. We also have the skills to advocate and cause policy change, to be at the table when policies are made and/or amended. The chat will hopefully guide and empower us to be at the forefront of the changing healthcare system
Q1: The ACA was the first step for individuals having more affordable access to health care. Even so, there are still barriers. What are the barriers to ACCESS health care? (i.e. insurance does not = care).
Q2: How do we, as social workers, incorporate these barriers into the conversation about preventative and on-going healthcare so that those most in need are gaining access?
Q3: What practices seem to benefit access to care for those most in need?
Q4: How do we help social work students see the link between health care and their work in the field in either clinical or macro settings?
Q5: What are the supports that are needed for social work providers to begin seeking out policy change and research-based evidence for helping individuals gain access?
For more information on the Navigator program, here is a 1-minute overview video that was created after they won a Public Engagement Award in 2016 – http://bit.ly/2mw9Vi2
Hosted by Chat Contributor, Alyssa Lotmore, LMSW – @AlyssaLotmore
Alyssa is employed at the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare, where she earned her BSW and MSW degrees. In addition to her main role working with alumni, she has been co-hosting The Social Workers Radio Talk Show on the University’s FM radio station (WCBD 90.9 FM) since 2013 (Twitter – @socialworkersfm). Alyssa created and instructs the course Media Savvy Social Work, which allows students hands-on practice in using the medium of radio for advocacy. She has given multiple presentations on the topic, including at the National Association of Social Workers National Conference in Washington, DC. Through all of her projects, her focus is on seeing the public as client, and using different forms of media to reach individuals who may never has considered seeing or using a social worker. As social work professionals, she believes that we need to be media savvy in sharing our expertise and raising awareness about issues that we care about.
Guest Expert – Kelly Gross, LMSW – @UAlbanyNavs
Kelly serves as the Director of the UAlbany Navigator Program