Technology in Social Work

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) created technology standards of practice in 2005, more than a decade ago. The general code of ethics encompasses cultural competency. Our global cultural shift includes technological advances, but varies depending on the part of the world.

technology in social work

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Tech Brings Out Your Best

  • Notes – Electronic systems efficiently track and retain data better than any notebook. Here are a few example categories for everyday tech helpers:

A) Electronic Data Management (EDM) services such as electronic medical records (EMR), and electronic health records (HER)

B) Specialized Free Note-Taking Applications like: ColorNote, Evernote, and OneNote

C) Web-Based Google Docs and Google Sheets, which allow for collaboration on documents AND give added value with auto-save so you can focus on your client.

  • Counseling Sessions – Internet technology and live chats platform such as Facetime and Skype can make client meeting much easier and more efficient because they require the less travel for you.

Although nothing beats face-to-face connections, it's a useful back up plan and for clients with special circumstances or in emergency situations. This may also mean you get to visit more clients and thus help more people per day.

  • Info Share – Sometimes Social Workers share info with large groups like caregivers and social service agencies. Google Docs and Google Sheets can allow multiple users from unlimited locations to access documents, comment and share information. This is productive for more casual collaborative conversations.

Sites such as Trello, Basecamp, and Slack can help keep with organization while also facilitating communication among groups of people who share resources but not necessarily locations. This works well for more formal information sharing. Sometimes boundaries and set structures are more crucial.

  • Research – Social Workers stay up to date on peer-reviewed research, social issues, and what other social workers do with newspapers, blogs and newsletters published by social work agencies such as NASW and ASWB. All of this is easily accessed online or with newsy apps.

Even better, the one thing all Social Workers have in common is taking the Master of Social Work Exam. Luckily there's an App even to help with that. The top-rated is called Pocket Prep and you can check it out for free at Pocket Prep App Link

Not only that but the NASW has an app that can even make their annual conference available to your digital device no matter where they decide to hold it next year. 

  • Business operations and management – Social work managers monitor personnel, create programs, work with budgets and organizational finances, and communicate with other professional organizations, government entities, stakeholders, and employees with the help of technology.

Best Tech Tools Today

The top of the list is our winner because it's free, it's got lots of verified happy users, and it's truly relevant to Social Work. This one can make you feel ready for any client the workday might bring.

Not Lost in Translation

This is where the SayHi Translate App can take your Social Work connection toolkit to another level. It's a free app you can download from iTunes, Android, or Microsoft to better understand a client while they're speaking any language. Because the application's technology works in real time, you won’t miss a thing.

It's like your own personal private translator. You may start to feel like the United Nations of Social Workers going forward with this baby in your pocket. Not only that, it's accessible with android and apple products as well as available for download free to your computer. That makes it accessible to virtually any Social Worker on the job.

In fact, SayHi has become such a phenomenon, with nearly eight thousand positive reviews on iTunes alone as of March 2018, app developers are taking advantage of its popularity. They created a dating app called SayHi Chat to pounce on the opportunity the original spawned in marketplace. So, when you download the app for Social Work assistance, make sure you use the word Translate in you search for SayHi. Otherwise you might get distracted by some potential Valentines.

A Little Lost? Map It Out!

But enough about the basics… Let's dive into the deep end. Mindmeister is an intriguing and incredibly productive app that syncs across different platforms. With more than seven million users and mor every day, this app is changing the way the world collaborates and helps workers organize and share their ideas in a visual way.

It's perfect for brainstorming, notes, planning, and all forms of expression. Best of all, it works across all platforms. So, no matter if you’re in Windows, Mac or Linux, MindMeister will work for you.

This indispensable app can help Social Workers create Mind Maps and presentations on an iPad, phone or computer. That way they can be edited on any device at any time. So you can create a map quickly on your iPhone and then be on a work computer later and continue working on the same map, which then will sync up to all devices with access to your Mindmeister account.

One of the coolest ways Mindmeister works is the built in presentation mode that allows you to take your undeveloped mind map ideas and seamlessly shift them into slick, dynamic slideshows with little effort.

Clinically, Mindmeister can aid Social Workers in visualizing clinical concepts, social work theory, and diagnostic criteria to clarify what can be very complicated concepts. Mindmaps can also outline the main points of a group to facilitate.

This may help you visualize and structure different projects to keep you organized and on track. Check out MindMeister and their cool maps here for a candid and compelling introduction Mind Map Mecca

Tech Usage as Assessment Tool

A suggestion on socialworker.com points to tech as way to assess clients by looking at their tech habits, especially teens and social media apps. That's because Social Workers focus on vulnerable populations and social media apps can sometimes be sources of bullying.

In fact, it's part of a social worker's job to teach their clients to use technology to empower themselves instead. They can do this by addressing best practices and raising their awareness. It's all part of taking care of yourself these days.

The SnapChat App is a solid example of a social platform that can help teach teens to advocate for themselves, shut down negative influences, and develop more self-esteem in the process. Not only can they take adorable pics but they can also block trolls.

This gives teens a precedent and practice for how to set boundaries that may strengthen their ability to use these same self-care tactics and boundaries face to face.

Resources for Rip Van Winkles

Some older or infirm clients may need help finding access to low cost or free Internet and Wifi service. Or perhaps they do have access but have been out of touch a while due to medical condition or maybe long term incarceration. Either way, many of your clients may require assistance in getting started from scratch. It can be hard to know where to start with clients like this especially if you are short on time to spend with them and they can’t afford classes.

Luckily, the American Library Association and Apple Stores are nationwide resources ready to help. In fact, The ALA has posted an online map with clickable resources for each state to find their advocacy resources right here Clickable Link Map for Library Tech Tools

Apple Stores also offer helpful free programs all day at all their stores for the public as well as select groups at set times. These tutorials are usually about an hour and cover everything from the basics of getting online to coding, taking photos, safety tips, and using apps or computer downloads. Many of their programs are specialized for seniors or children (for example) and they are happy to take questions and help clients one-on-one after a session. It's all free and easy. Check out their website for details about what's offered near your clients Free Programs at Apple Stores

Back to Basics Bag Supplies

What's in your bag? It's not just a question for Cosmopolitan Mags anymore. We could all use a hand getting packed for work, especially when headed out to do mental health assessments like Clinical Social Workers. So, what might a Clinical Social Worker need to have in their bag for a day on the job say at a hospital or school? Well, technology is key.

Here's a handy checklist of basics social workers need:

  • Lightweight laptop or tablet
  • Clipboard/Paperwork
  • Pens/Pencils/Sharpie
  • Mobile hotspot
  • Ethernet cable
  • Power cord
  • Work badge/ID

Sometimes it's helpful to have a checklist like this, especially when working with volatile clients. The security of knowing you have everything in tow can set you at ease so it's that much easier to connect with your clients and focus on their needs.

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