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Planning for convalescence with General Hospital patients : an analysis of the problems of patients requiring convalescence, and the social work services provided, based on a group of cases from the Vancouver General Hospital, 1954 Ellis, Jack Arthur Nixon

Abstract

Medical social workers, have, since the first decade of the twentieth century, been involved in helping general hospital patients to plan for convalescence when they are no longer in need of active hospital treatment. Recent advances in medical science, and changing attitudes about the role of the family in modern society, have brought about increased demands for social casework help for patients who must plan for a period of convalescence before returning to their former or optimum level of health. This thesis reviews the problems of convalescence as shown by a group of patients at the Vancouver General Hospital, who were referred to the Social Service Department of the Hospital, and analyzes the nature of the help with planning for convalescence which the patients received from social workers. Schedules were used to collect data from the case records of these patients, and a questionnaire was used to obtain additional data from the social workers who worked with them. Information obtained included data as to age, sex, marital status, and occupation, together with an appraisal of the problems of these patients as they affected themselves, or involved their families and friends of the community. Information obtained from the questionnaire concerned the types of casework services offered in meeting the problems the patients presented. The questionnaire was adapted from that developed by a previous research student, in studying casework services in a mental hospital. Whereas his study described, by "operational definition", the specific casework services offered by a social service department, this s tudy attempts to describe, similarly, the specific services offered to meet one particular problem which confronts a social service department. The study reveals that three main types of problems occur: (a) accommodation problems, (b) financial problems, and (c) psychological problems, and they confront (d) the patient; (e) his family and friends, and (f) the community. Specific casework services have been developed by social workers in dealing with these problems, and are rendered directly to the patient, or indirectly through his family and friends or the community. A considerable measure of appropriateness was revealed in the services offered to meet these problems. The main results indicate that problems of accommodation far outnumber other problems that arise in convalescence; and that further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of services as they are, and how they might be improved. Medical social workers have a three-fold responsibility to patients, to hospital, and to community. These responsibilities are recognized, and considerable efforts are being made to meet them. There is, however, a need for better and more comprehensive social work recording, in order that interpretation to hospital and community can be effectively carried out.

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