Only because it is GVT’s business to provide technology services to the world of social services have we hesitated in the past to promote the central role that technology plays in the delivery of services to the vulnerable populations social workers serve. It has always felt a little too self-serving.
However, in the past fifteen years, technology has evolved from being one of the tools social workers use to what can only be described as the “heart of the matter”.
A surgeon and his scalpel are more than a doctor holding an instrument. They are a functional unit that can only perform their work in unison.
Case workers, without versatile software, the latest mobile devices, access to the internet and powerful WIFI, are like a surgeon without a scalpel. They simply cannot do their work. Without modern technology they would be reduced to solitary civil servants sitting alone in a bare room slowly filling out forms with a #2 pencil that constantly needs sharpening while the caseload explodes around them.
Creating A Confidential Permanent Persona
As social service agencies began a rapid expansion in the 1980s, it became clear that each client required a permanent administrative persona that would endure beyond the relationship with their initial case worker. The paperwork that would create and document the existence of this “permanent persona” immediately expanded exponentially. The case worker of the sixties required a name, address, phone number, and a social security number to document a new client. Case workers in 2021, however, are required to assemble an enormous amount of data to introduce a new client into a highly complex but effective social service system and ensure that the client's confidential record survives far beyond his relationship with the case worker who initiated him.
Creating this permanent, confidential persona requires the following initial documentation that goes far beyond name, address, and social security number.
- Intake form
- Initial evaluation
- Subsequent assessment
- A service plan and needs assessment
- A Care plan and goals
- Recommended referrals to other providers
Managing Ongoing Care
And that is only the beginning. Modern case workers are care managers rather than care givers. They are tasked with not only creating a "care plan" for the client but also with shepherding the client throughout the term of the plan requiring more data input and coordination.
Program management requires but is not limited to:
- A comprehensive treatment plan with ongoing reviews
- Scheduling for clients
- Referral management tools with decision making processes
- Monitoring and coordination
- School and education tracking forms
- Legal forms
- Medical information tracking
- Group and individual case note reviews
- GPS tracking for home visits
The modern case worker then must decide and record when a client has been adequately served. That, of course, requires further documentation.
- Outcomes evaluation form
- Termination and discharge form
- Final document repository for the confidential permanent persona.
The Big Picture
We believe it is helpful, occasionally, to maintain perspective by looking at the "big picture".
Case work is case management. The modern case worker is asked to manage an ever-growing number of cases in a system overloaded by need. Each "client" becomes a "case" as the case worker guides them through a highly complex system of care givers and civil servants tasked with one or another element of the client's care. Without the "scalpel" of sophisticated software and hardware, the modern caseworker would be powerless. Although it might seem like a rather impersonal view, technology has become the "heart of the matter". If you feel any resistance to technology in the course of your work, drop it and embrace your most important tool. Only a highly skilled surgeon sees a scalpel as a beautiful instrument.
You can read more about how our case management software has made a difference for agencies under Case Studies in our FAMCare blog. Enjoy our content? Then please subscribe for instant, weekly or monthly updates!