Contributed by Irnahjaya binti Mohd Zaba, Medical Social Worker at Medical Social Work Department, Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre
The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) has marked every third Tuesday of March as World Social Work Day. Social workers worldwide come together to recognise the significant contributions of their profession in a celebration that has become a major event in the social work calendar.
This celebration aims to honour social work’s efforts to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, communities and wider society. It also emphasises social work’s achievements, raises social services’ visibility, and defends social justice and human rights.
This year, World Social Work Day takes place today with the theme, ‘Respecting diversity through joint social action’. The theme is a powerful reminder that change occurs locally through diverse and leader-filled communities. It recognises the power of social action to create social change that is inclusive and respectful of diversity.
Ultimately, it is an opportunity to acknowledge how communities can take powerful actions that lead to inclusive social transformation.
The Medical Social Work Department at Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC) held a ceremony where a celebration of World Social Work Day 2023 was launched on March 7, 2023.
In conjunction with this event, the department welcomed interested vendors and exhibitors to enliven the ceremony.
A forum was also planned for March 10, where we invited a panel of renowned speakers to discuss the importance of respecting diversity and its impact on society.
All the programmes and activities were initiated from March 7 until March 10 to give the public exposure to the field of social work and promote the importance of understanding diversity to change someone’s life.
As medical social workers, we always prioritise patient’s needs, especially ensuring their discharge planning, financial, and carer issues have been solved. We acknowledge that diversity plays a crucial role in patient care, and understanding the diverse backgrounds of patients is vital to providing effective care. Diversity for us is about understanding how broader society, individual and family issues and deeper historical context can directly influence our patients’ quality of life.
We are committed to promoting an inclusive environment that values and respects diversity to help our patients achieve the best possible health outcomes.
Understanding differences among our patients is the most substantial thing we highlight regarding intervention.
A cross-cultural interaction between a patient and a medical social worker can easily evoke a sense of stranger anxiety. Therefore, acknowledging their differences and perceptions is the most important thing to allow the patient to feel more comfortable and willing to disclose any problem they face.
Our approach is to work collaboratively with our patients, their families and support networks to develop a personalised care plan that addresses their needs.
The social work profession in general, requires working with people during their most vulnerable moments, regardless of their age, gender, religious beliefs, capabilities or mental and physical health. Thus, understanding diversity enables social workers to provide more holistic care and support to their clients.
Our aim is always to make a difference in people’s lives. When problems have complexities, our driving force is to work through them and support them in the best ways possible. It is a fulfilling and rewarding experience to be in this role whenever we accomplish our goals.
As we celebrate World Social Work Day 2023, we call on everyone to renew our commitment to creating an inclusive society that respects and values diversity.