Social Worker Trish Harrower is reflecting on her 32 years at PA Hospital for a final week; from Brisbane’s coming of age in 1988 at a time when only one stapler for the whole Social Work Department was allowed, to the dawning of the new age in digital health where computers, wow’s and ipads dominate frontline business.
Trish will serve her last day as Team Leader for the Internal Medicine and Aged Care Social Work Team on Friday 29 May.
“She will be deeply missed - her influence and her personality has made her irreplaceable in our Social Work Department and to our staff. Trish’s influence extends beyond the PAH,” Director of Social Work Sue Cumming said. “No social worker in Queensland Health knows more about aged care than she does!”
“Trish is a patient flow expert for complex patient issues related to NDIS and residential aged care. She is a source of medico legal knowledge and has developed considerable expertise and knowledge of the Aged Care Act and key organisations such as QCAT, Office of the Public Guardian, and Office of the Public Trustee. She has been the social worker for internal medicine for almost all of her career and her level of detailed understanding about individual patients, their families and wider connections is extraordinary.”
Trish attests that there are some amazing characters she has met over her 32 years who will hold a special place in her heart and memory forever.
“The stoicism of older people is wonderful and I have learned from their wisdom, the amazing things they have gone through and we can all learn from their life lessons,” Trish said.
“But of course, I will miss my colleagues! PA is such a special place and the PA Team shows time and time again that we can pull together in difficult circumstances. There is a spirit of co-cooperativeness, camaraderie and hope amongst so many special people that reinforces why PA is a wonderful place to work.”
Over her career, Trish has seen social work move into a respected and strategic place in the multidisciplinary team.
“Many elements of a patient’s journey were previously perceived as a social work problem with the role of social workers being very isolated,” she said.
“Now it is a team effort to transfer care from the hospital to residential services and social workers are valued for being able to solve significant problems and negotiate the complex systems like NDIS, QCAT and aged care referral. We now feel very supported by the consultants and the rest of the team and it has been great to be part of this transition.”
A process Trish is happy to see firmly in the past is the process of requesting ACAT (NH5 approvals then) approvals from head office by snail mail.
“Snail mail to the city for signing and snail mail back took so long compared to modern requests. If by chance you jagged a bed vacancy, you would quickly leap into a taxi, taxi voucher in hand, and go into the city to get it signed,” she said.
“Now we have efficient links established with aged care homes who have a sales model and our outreach services to the residential care facility mean improved relationships where they are more likely to let us know about vacancies which improved the business relationship, the patient flow, and the transition to supported accommodation for the patient.”
Through the exciting times of growth in Brisbane during the Expo ’88 era with the anticipated changes and forward momentum in health, Trish said the uncertainty as we climb out of the pandemic in the clinical environment involves a similar feeling of opportunity.
“We are really embracing opportunities that have come from COVID and for us it could be change for the better. The Commonwealth and NDIS have been willing to cut through red tape with some innovations at the current time and I hope this means more innovation to come in how we deliver aged care.”