The myths and realities of social work – and why it might be just what you need

By Rhiannon Gatenby, UQ Healthy Living Social Work Service

There appear to be many misconceptions in the Brisbane community (and further afield!) as to what social work and the role of a social worker is. Some immediately think of the removal of children from homes considered unsafe; people in dire straits without income or support; or victims of partner violence or elder abuse all requiring desperate assistance.

The truth is that while social workers can and do work with these types of people and in these situations – we are not limited to the critical or the dramatic. Social workers are interested in helping and advocating for disadvantaged groups, but we also are interested in a person’s overall wellbeing, from physical, to social, to mental. That’s people just like you.

The support we regularly offer over 50s is varied and might be as simple as linking a socially isolated client with a community group that shares their interests. We might help someone 65 or over navigate My Aged Care online and access any services and funding they may need to live a fulfilling life. We could inform one of our seniors about the process of appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney and walk them through the terms of agreement.

We partner with individuals to achieve their goals, by equipping them with resources and knowledge, and empowering them to take the steps needed to move to where they want to be.

This is why a service like social work compliments UQ Healthy Living so well. To truly promote health and wellbeing for over 50s, we must support more than the physical. An interprofessional health service must also meet the social and psychological needs of our clients to ensure they are healthy and happy in every aspect of their lives.