Treatment Philosophy
Social workers believe in the intrinsic worth and dignity of every human being. They are dedicated to the welfare of individuals and families and to the pursuit of social justice for all. Social workers are pledged to serve their clients without discrimination on any grounds. The values of acceptance, self-determination, and respect for the individual are fundamental to all forms of social work practice. The social worker in physical rehabilitation adheres to the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of their respective provincial governing bodies and of the Canadian Association of Social Workers.

Purpose of Social Work in Physical Rehabilitation
As a member of an in-patient or out-patient interdisciplinary team, the social worker facilitates the rehabilitation process to assist the patient in maximizing independence and autonomy in the various areas of his or her functioning. This process includes work with the patient, with his or her family, with the rehabilitation team, and with the community. Through assessment and interventions in the areas of psycho-social functioning and discharge planning, the social worker helps the client and the family move from a situation of uncertainty, anxiety, and dependency to one of increased confidence, hope, and autonomy.

Issues addressed by a rehabilitation social worker include:

  1. Acknowledgment of diagnosis and need for intervention.
  2. Adaptation to changes in the patient’s role or relationships.
  3. Modification in responsibilities and level of dependency.
  4. Grief and adjustment to loss as a result of disability.
  5. Dealing with altered self-image and expectations.
  6. Adjustment to financial and social stressors related to disability.
  7. Resource counselling for reintegration into employment and community; transportation; changes to home environment or choice of supervised care; funding of adaptive devices and other medical expenses.

Social Workers in Physical Rehabilitation also have a responsibility to:

  • Advocate on an individual and systemic level when gaps in service are identified.
  • Initiate, conduct, and collaborate in research projects to enhance social work practice and to contribute to the body of knowledge associated with physical rehabilitation.
  • Provide supervision and training to students developing their expertise in the field of physical rehabilitation.
  • Act as a resource to community organizations by providing education, presentations, program development, and follow-up consultation.
  • Maintain and develop expertise through participation in professional development activities in the hospital and community.

Prepared by: Social Workers at the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, Ontario, Canada