Treatments and tests

Social work

Social workers are members of the multidisciplinary health care teams in WA hospitals and health services.

All social workers complete a minimum 4 year university degree and are regulated by professional bodies to ensure service safety and quality.

What does a social worker do?

Social workers assist consumers, patients, carers and significant others with the practical, personal and emotional impact of:

  • illness
  • disability
  • hospitalisation.

Social workers act to protect vulnerable consumers, such as:

  • children
  • the elderly
  • people with decision-making impairment
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Social workers may be able to assist you with the following:

  • assessing your need for practical and emotional support during and after hospitalisation
  • accommodation and residential care
  • helping you during a crisis, for example:
    • death
    • relationship breakdown
    • disability
    • domestic violence
  • accessing services such as:
    • community services, including personal care and domestic assistance
    • crisis accommodation
    • Centrelink services
    • health care.

A social worker may also lobby to change social welfare policies, conduct interventions, or provide support to mental health consumers in the community.

Examples of treatment provided by social workers

A social worker may:

  • coordinate family meetings with the healthcare team and arrange support services on discharge
  • assess and refer people for community support for issues related to parenting, family or relationship issues, substance use or domestic violence
  • provide supportive counselling at a time when consumers are adjusting to grief and loss, trauma or crisis.

Social work while you’re in hospital

Referrals to a social worker may be made by:

  • self-referral
  • family members
  • community service providers
  • hospital or healthcare staff.

Some hospitals have a limited social work service on weekends and public holidays.

Social work outside of hospital

After discharge, a social worker may:

  • advise on relevant community services
  • undertake home visits for example via the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).

Social work services are also offered by community mental health agencies for eligible consumers.

Can I access a social worker privately?

You can access a social worker privately. To find a social worker in your area, visit the Australian Association of Social Workers (external site).

More information

Some allied health services are offered to people with chronic conditions and complex care needs. Speak to your doctor to find out what service you might be able to access.


Office of the Chief Health Professions Officer

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.