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Advancing the need for medical social workers in paediatric wards at a public health hospital in South Africa

Whilst the literature related to social work services with children is extant, little is devoted to medical social work with regards to children in a hospital context. Moreover, empirical research related to medical social work is scant in South Africa. Using a qualitative research approach data was collected from health professionals, working in a paediatric ward, at a public health hospital in KwaZulu- Natal. The objective was to understand the experiences of paediatric patients and their parents and the potential role of social service professionals in paediatric wards. Semi-structured in depth interviews were conducted with a sample of eleven paediatricians, nurses and occupational therapists. The study  highlights include:

  • Research devoted to medical social work and children is limited.
  • A huge gap in the paediatric ward with regards to psycho-social support services and the need for medical social workers.
  • A need for social service professionals to work directly within the space of paediatric wards.
  • Interactive collaboration between social workers and medical professionals is a valuable tool.
  • Social service professionals could form a crucial link between the hospital and home, both during and after hospitalization of children.
Raisuyah Bhagwan
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Journal article - open access
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