Shanghai seeking more social workers
The medical social worker profession is not well known in China, but Shanghai, which created the first department to train people in the field, is seeking more such workers to meet increasing demands for their services.
Medical social workers, or hospital social workers, as they also are known, work with hospital patients and their families to obtain a variety of needed resources, including assistance in problem solving and coping.
In 2000, the city’s East Hospital established the first medical social work department on the Chinese mainland.
“We have worked to explore more effective ways for the development of medical social work and have also seen some good results. But faced with the increasing demand for medical services from patients and their families, there is still a long road for us to go,” said Wu Jinglei of the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission.
A medical social work and volunteer service system has been set up in the city, with the government, hospitals, highereducation institutions and social organizations working together.
Wu said the city is planning to improve the service system by establishing a comprehensive work program for medical social workers and volunteers at hospitals. It also will integrate resources from health, civil affairs, human resources and social security departments.
The city also will provide more professional training for medical social workers and hospital volunteers and establish a standardized assessment system, he said.
In Shanghai, 152 hospitals and medical bodies have been using the medical social work program, which includes more than 50,000 hospital volunteers, most with a certain amount of medical background, he said.
From 2012 to 2014, a total of 652 medical social workers received training to improve their clinical service abilities.
More than 70 percent of people in a survey said medical social workers can help patients better follow a doctor’s instructions, and about a half said medical social workers can help ease stressful relations between doctors and patients, according to a report released by the city’s health department.