Society & Sustainability

Digital solutions deployed to enhance social workers’ performance for proactively solving problems during COVID-19

Thammasat University, ThaiHealth and their network promoted social media for telemedicine innovations to enhance social workers’ performance for proactively solving social problems during the COVID-19 crisis.

Prof. Rapeepan Kumhom, Dean of the Faculty of Social Administration, Thammasat University as the project leader said that according to the project operation, the problem of patients being bullied, discriminated and blamed was found resulting in depression and risk of suicide. Hence, the project had trained volunteer social workers that had been gathered from all sectors to work on an online platform. 4 training courses has been provided; 1. Basic Counseling 2. Empowerment Skills 3. Counseling Techniques for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and 4. Child care. This is to develop social workers’ skills including a social telemedicine platform to follow up with patients as an assessment tool that will reduce the work process of social workers and facilitate care planning.

Prof. Rapeepan added that social media platform for telemedicine is beneficial for the development of treatment result monitoring and evaluation system allowing patients to have continuous health care, good quality of life having good relationship within community, get an easier and faster access to the public health care system, and it enables an increase of efficiency of health services so that patients are not abandoned if there is another crisis in the future. Therefore, social workers needed to develop the competence for the use of digital platforms that have been developed and deployed in social works.

Dr. Kachirat Prak-Eko, Director of Health System Development Support Office, Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) said that ThaiHealth promoted the project of social workers’ competency development and social care model empowering communities in surveillance, managing social care for patients including those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of the first wave. ThaiHealth together with a team of social workers from the Faculty of Social Administration, Thammasat University and Thammasat University Field Hospital, Public and Private Sector Network, a total of 11 network partners have operated at the community level. During the 2nd and 3rd wave of outbreaks, network partners had constantly developed their work. Recently, Social Telemedicine has been developed as a social care platform that connects to the primary care system and the primary care network. It has enhanced the efficiency of referral system, social rehabilitation therapy and monitoring of social care in the community.

Thammasat University, ThaiHealth and their network have collaborated proactively to be able to plan to prevent outbreaks or other crises. In addition, social care networks have been expanded to other professions such as community nurses, public health workers, pharmacists as well as local government officers. The important thing is a willingness to help each other that grows a bigger network in the future. Thammasat University, ThaiHealth and network partners are ready to connect the mechanisms of public and private sectors to collaborate systematically.

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