Journal Article

Social Work in Accident and Emergency Departments: A Better Deal for Older Patients' Health?

Eileen McLeod, Paul Bywaters and Matthew Cooke

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 33, issue 6, pages 787-802
Published in print September 2003 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online September 2003 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Social Work in Accident and Emergency Departments: A Better Deal for Older Patients' Health?

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Well‐established internationally, the current development of social work in UK accident and emergency (A&E) departments is part of a conjoint health/social care policy drive to divert older people from ‘unnecessary’ admission to acute hospital care on social grounds. However, from older service users' standpoint, the prime criterion for assessing A&E social work is not its powers of diversion, but its contribution to optimum health and social care. Our account indicates that A&E based social work can provide important benefits, including help with negotiating the A&E environment and readier access to social services. Nevertheless, continuing professional–service user power imbalances, together with shortages in health and social care services, undermine its positive contribution both within A&E and following discharge. Notably, under‐resourced community based health and social care can lead to services implemented through A&E, swiftly unravelling. This has serious consequences for older service users facing interlinked health and social problems, and may be implicated in re‐attendance at A&E.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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