Exploring the role of the UK renal social worker: the nexus between health and social care for renal patients

Seekles, ML and Ormandy, P ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6951-972X 2022, 'Exploring the role of the UK renal social worker: the nexus between health and social care for renal patients' , PLoS ONE, 17 (9) , pp. 1-17.

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Introduction Patients living with progressive chronic kidney disease may face a variety of ongoing physical, emotional, financial and/or social challenges along the disease pathway. In most UK renal units, psychosocial support has traditionally been provided by a renal social worker. However, in recent years, the numbers of renal social workers have been declining. The specialised role is poorly understood and there is no UK research about the profession. To inform future research and guide workforce planning, this study presents the first-ever exploration of the UK renal social worker role. It aimed to map the profession’s activities and reasons for involvement in patient care, as well as providing an initial evaluation of that involvement on patient wellbeing. Methods and analysis This mixed-method study recruited adult renal social workers (n = 14), who completed diaries over a 4-month period, participated in a focus group, and provided secondary data (caseload data and audit files where available) to give insight into their role. The evaluation of social work involvement on patient wellbeing used a pre-post intervention design. It measured distress, anxiety and depression levels as captured by the Distress Thermometer and Emotional Thermometers. A total of 161 patients completed the pre-involvement questionnaire, and 87 (55%) returned the post-involvement questionnaire. Results and conclusion The renal social worker role is creative, broad and fluid, with variations in roles linked to differences in employment and funding arrangements, configurations of the wider multidisciplinary renal team, level of standardisation of psychosocial care, availability of community services, and staff-to-patient ratios. Renal social work is different from statutory social work, and renal social workers are generally able to offer continuous rather than episodic care and support patients that would not meet strict local authority eligibility criteria. The findings showed that this support leads to significantly reduced distress and anxiety.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Journal or Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Funders: Kidney Care UK
Depositing User: Professor Paula Ormandy
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2022 10:07
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2022 14:30
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/65093

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