Women's College Hospital - Health Care for Women, Revolutionized

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Social workers break down barriers and create new ways to deliver care

September 5, 2013

At Women’s College Hospital (WCH), social workers are breaking ground with innovative programs that offer patients timely care, support and resources more quickly than ever before.  Known as Mother Matters and the Family Practice Single Session Clinic, the programs are improving treatment options and enhancing quality of life for patients.

Mother Matters, an online support program, offers clinical group therapy to mothers struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety. In a moderator-led forum, participants connect with healthcare professionals and group members, all with the click of a mouse. It’s a patient-centred approach to care that provides access to expert information when and where patients need it most.   

“Mother Matters provides a new way to access care and reduces the need to visit a hospital to get therapeutic help,” says Maura O’Keefe, a social worker in the mental health program. “It breaks down barriers to care and takes the service we provide in the hospital and places it in a space that’s becoming more frequently used to find answers and support,” she says. 

Available to mothers across Ontario, Mother Matters reaches urban and rural areas.

 “The hope is that women will connect with other women for support and receive clinical guidance from healthcare professionals,” says Greer Slyfield Cook, a social worker in the mental health program.

The Family Practice Single Session Clinic is another unique program that’s improving access to care.  Here, any patient with a family doctor at WCH can walk in every Friday between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. to receive care and meet directly with a social worker, without a referral from a doctor, eliminating a six-week waiting period.

“The clinic was developed to address the wait list for social workers and ultimately, to develop more client-centred care, which means that patients can access care and get support when it’s most convenient for them, ” says Jennifer Muir, a social worker in family practice. 

This particular clinic does not offer psychotherapy, but rather solution-focused counselling assistance that helps patients with day-to-day problems and stressors, including support for stress related to work, relationships and recent interpersonal conflicts. The goal is to help provide answers and to connect patients to the right resources.

“For almost two years, the Family Practice Single Session Clinic has been supporting patients and providing answers as quickly as possible. It’s a flexible program that’s responsive to patient needs,” says Karen Burrell, a social worker in family practice.   

By creating unique ways to access care, social workers at WCH are creating programs that are directly aligned with our new strategic plan, creating health system solutions to improve the overall healthcare system.   

WCH social workers
WCH social workers Jennifer Muir, Greer Slyfield Cook, Karen Burrell and Maura O’Keefe.
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