Social Work in the Smartphone Era

Writer's screenshot of HITE's case management cheat shee-- I mean, case management empowerment app.
Writer’s screenshot of HITE’s case management cheat shee– I mean, case management empowerment app.

Social work confession #183736:  The bulk of my case management skills come from Google.

Ok, not entirely true (Hi, generalist practice professors!), but when I first started out in the field, my knowledge of community resources probably encompassed the radius of three subway stops and know where the nearest Chipotle is.  To my defense, there’s no class in social work school that teaches us a list of community resources in every area of need, however, for most of us, this knowledge is formed through the experience of peer discussions with co-workers, seeking supervison, and research.

Pooling from these different resources creates an internal eco-map (remember those?) for practitioners to use as a reference point to expand our clients’ own external map of connections and supports.  In the purest clinical setting, the client would be the one to do this on her or his own.  However, depending on the client’s vulnerabilities and level of functionality, here’s where the social worker comes in and fulfills (among many roles) a broker role in making essential linkages at the beginning and throughout work together.  Also, hint:  these roles are important to know for the exam.

For better or for worse, we live in a post-yellow-page era of instant and mobile information. Tools such a simple online search, encouraging marginalized clients’ development of computer skills, and/or HITE (The Health Information Tool for Empowerment) provide not so much shortcuts—nothing replaces personal rapport and assessment-based contact with an agency—but additional linkages to fulfill our broker and advocate roles by expanding these “support maps.”  Remember Link from Zelda and the permanent mapping of areas he ventured into?  Kind of like that  (I had to).

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