Oncologist Dr. Belinda Yeoh and a patient



Service & discharge planning

Social Workers work closely with other hospital staff to plan and arrange any supports which may be required during or after hospital treatment.

In some  instances the Social Worker may arrange information and planning/family meetings to provide information about treatment and service planning.

Social work assessment

Social Work Assessment Social Workers are trained to undertake comprehensive assessments. This helps hospital staff understand individual patient’s support needs and concerns. These assessments identify any personal, family or home related issues or concerns that can impact upon treatment or ability to return home. Social Workers also seek to identify patients who are 'at risk' of not being able to return to their previous level of independence and usual lifestyle. This ensures the arrangement of any necessary supports or alternative care arrangements.


Social Workers provide counselling and support for patients and family/ carers in relation to issues associated to illness, adjustment, disability and hospital care. Where necessary and appropriate, referrals for ongoing counselling are made to community agencies.

Family meetings/information & planning meetings

Social Workers co-ordinate and facilitate meetings which provide an opportunity for patient/family/carer participation in the treatment and care  planning process. These meetings also provide an opportunity for questions about the diagnosis and treatment plan. The aim is to ensure quality of care and better patient outcomes, a smooth transition to home and the community.

Community service information & access

Social Workers provide up to date information and support about a wide variety of topics and services including housing/accommodation, legal and  income support/financial services. Where necessary, referrals are made to specialist community services to facilitate access to required services and entitlements.

Rural and interstate patients/ carers are assisted to access available temporary accommodation and transport entitlements.

Supported accommodation

Whenever possible, Social Workers assist and support the patient to return home after their treatment in hospital. However, in those instances when discharge home is not possible due to the level of ongoing support required by the patient, supported accommodation may be required. Social Workers assist patients and their families to find appropriate supported accommodation such as nursing homes and hostels.


Social Workers have an active role in conjunction with the other hospital staff to provide information and education to patients, their family/carers and community service providers regarding the effects of illness, treatments, hospitalisation and services. Education occurs on both a one to one basis and via group services.

Research & quality improvement initiatives

Austin Health Social Work is committed to ongoing research and quality standards of practice. Staff monitor their practice as part of a continuing quality improvement program to ensure best patient care. Staff participate in Austin Health quality committees aimed at improving patient care and outcomes.

Social Workers participate in and present papers, posters, seminars and innovative programs at international, national and state conferences.

Veterans’ service

Austin Health Social Work provides a service to assist  War Veterans and Widows.

Those eligible include war Veterans and Widows who have a department of Veterans’ Affairs:

  •      A Gold Repatriation Health Card, or
  •      A White Repatriation Health Card

The Veterans’ Social Work Service can assist with:

  • Provision of DVA specific information including home support options and entitlements to care and treatment
  • Provision of information about residential care and other accommodation options
  • Arranging long term supported accommodation
  • Arranging convalescent and respite care
  • Referrals to a range of community based services including home care programs, meals services and aged care assessments
  • Follow-up contact to ensure planned services from hospital to home are in place and meeting needs
  • Short term counselling  and support
  • Legal and financial issues