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Two Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) social workers have travelled almost 8,000km to share their knowledge and experience with counterparts in India.
The trip was part of a project designed to develop a social work practice model for Indian hospitals by increasing the skills, knowledge and experience of social work education and practice leaders in Kochi, India.
Social Worker Angela Tonge, who spent nine days abroad with colleague Georgina Heaslop, said the first step was to understand the unique challenges social workers in India experienced.
“As health services improve, India is experiencing a new range of health and social challenges which make the role of medical social work even more important,” she said.
“During our visit, we met with healthcare professionals from three different Indian states and visited a number of hospitals. We also facilitated a number of workshops to help us to better understand healthcare needs, and the strengths and challenges of medical social work in Kerala.”
Georgina said it was a career highlight to collaborate at an international level.
“Together, we were able to explore their goals and look at ways they could further develop the knowledge and skills of social work students and practitioners,” she said.
“Our final day was spent delivering a tailored workshop on health social work, theories and interventions, to social work students and academic staff from the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences.”
The project headed up by the Queensland University of Technology was a joint effort with PAH, the Australia-India Council, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences (RCSS).
In May this year, a small delegation of Indian social workers and a RCSS academic will travel to Australia to see first-hand the role of medical social work at PAH.
“We’re very excited to welcome our new friends to PAH,” Angela said.
“Afterwards, the project group will collaboratively develop a new social work model of care for use in hospitals in Kerala.
“Then, we will be returning to Kerala in November to deliver training in this model to a group of practitioners.”