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Social Work and Healthcare

Social Work and Healthcare


Social work roles, functions, and tasks in acute hospitals and primary care polyclinics in Singapore are essential for providing comprehensive and holistic care to patients and their families. While there may be some overlap in roles, the specific focus and responsibilities of social workers can vary between these settings. Here is an examination of the social work roles and functions in both settings:

Roles and Functions in Acute Hospitals (e.g., Singapore General Hospital):

  1. Patient Assessment and Support: Social workers in acute hospitals assess the psychosocial needs of patients and their families. They provide emotional support, counseling, and crisis intervention to help patients cope with the stress and challenges of their medical condition.
  2. Care Coordination: Social workers collaborate with the healthcare team to ensure that patients’ medical, social, and psychological needs are addressed. They help develop individualized care plans and facilitate communication between patients, families, and medical staff.
  3. Discharge Planning: Social workers play a crucial role in discharge planning. They assess patients’ readiness for discharge, arrange for home care services, equipment, and follow-up appointments, and ensure a smooth transition from the hospital to the community.
  4. Psychosocial Counseling: Social workers offer counseling to patients and their families dealing with illness, disability, or end-of-life issues. They assist in decision-making, advance care planning, and addressing cultural and spiritual concerns.
  5. Advocacy: Social workers advocate for patients’ rights, ensuring they receive appropriate care, support, and access to resources. They may also assist in resolving ethical dilemmas or conflicts that may arise in the hospital setting.
  6. Support for Caregivers: Social workers recognize the strain that caregiving can place on family members. They provide education, respite care options, and emotional support to caregivers to prevent burnout and promote their well-being.

Roles and Functions in Primary Care Polyclinics (e.g., SingHealth Polyclinics):

  1. Screening and Assessment: Social workers in primary care polyclinics conduct initial screenings to identify patients with psychosocial or behavioral health issues. They assess patients’ social determinants of health, such as housing, employment, and family dynamics.
  2. Brief Interventions: Social workers offer brief interventions and support to patients with mild to moderate mental health concerns or social challenges. They provide counseling, psychoeducation, and referrals to appropriate community resources.
  3. Health Promotion: Social workers play a role in health promotion and preventive care by conducting group sessions or workshops on topics such as stress management, smoking cessation, and nutrition. They also work on community outreach programs.
  4. Collaboration with Multidisciplinary Teams: In primary care settings, social workers collaborate closely with primary care physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals to address the holistic needs of patients. They participate in case conferences and care planning meetings.
  5. Resource Linkage: Social workers connect patients with community resources, such as housing assistance, food banks, vocational training, and substance abuse treatment. They help patients access these resources to improve their overall well-being.
  6. Advocacy for Vulnerable Populations: Social workers advocate for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, children, and individuals with disabilities. They work to ensure that these groups receive the necessary support and services.

In both acute hospitals and primary care polyclinics, social workers serve as a bridge between healthcare services and the social and emotional needs of patients and their families. Their roles may overlap, but they adapt their functions to the specific demands of each setting to provide comprehensive care and support.

Social Work and Healthcare






Examine the social work roles, functions, or tasks required to work effectively in

i) acute hospitals in Singapore, for example, Singapore General Hospital.

ii) primary care polyclinics in Singapore, for example, polyclinics under the SingHealth Group.


As the roles may overlap, your answer need not be distinct as long as you refer to these two settings.

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