Western Sydney salutes the strength, culture and service of social workers

Proud social workers Christine Vo and Damian Mcmahon.

Helping patients navigate their way through the health system, social workers remain at the heart of patient care across Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).

They have also confronted the challenges of the past year – introducing new methods to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic whilst building team culture.

Tuesday 16 March marks World Social Work Day, a day to celebrate the profession that advocates for social justice, inclusion and wellbeing. This year’s theme is `Ubuntu: I am because we are – Strengthening Social Solidarity and Global Connectedness’.

WSLHD Allied Health director Jacqueline Dominish said social workers have been resilient throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented new ways of working to protect communities and staff.

“I’d like to congratulate and thank all our dedicated and committed social workers who have gone above and beyond each day,” Jacqueline said.

“Staff have used digital technology to communicate with patients, families and fellow staff and reduced the number of staff working closely together.

“We’ve also increased training sessions on the correct way to put on and take off Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and worked closely with clinical teams for safer patient discharges.

“Plus, the ‘Social Work Games’ were launched to help boost staff morale and relationships, and build and encourage teamwork.”

The COVID-19 safe “Social Work Games” were held at Westmead and Auburn hospitals over one month and comprised of clinical and social work teams. The games included emoji movie trivia, an alphabet scavenger hunt to identify hospital objects using the alphabet and measuring the most number of Post-It notes stuck on a team member’s face.

Social worker Kim Hobbs making her way through the alphabet scavenger hunt with X… for X-Ray.

Westmead Hospital Women’s Health and Newborn Care social worker Damian McMahon is no stranger to helping others through grief and loss – all because of his mother.

“I’ve wanted to be a social worker when I was young because my mum was a bereavement counsellor so when I was growing up we were exposed to a lot of things around grief, loss, mental health and bereavement in general,” he said.

“That exposure inspired me, and when my older sister became a social worker that really piqued my interest. The most rewarding aspect of being a social worker is working in the grief and loss space.”

Social workers Damian Mcmahon and Christine Vo in Westmead Hospital.

Having previously worked in the cancer and cardiothoracic departments, his day-to-day duties included supporting people during traumatic or dramatic life-changing situations.

“This is the patient’s worst experience or time in their life, and if I can add anyway to that in a positive way or make that experience a little bit smoother, that’s rewarding to me.”

Westmead Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) social worker Christine Vo has supported patients for more than six years.

Westmead Hospital Social Worker Christine Vo

“I’ve helped many patients who’ve been involved in a traumatic experience or who unexpectedly deteriorated from a chronic illness,” she said.

To unwind Christine takes care of her mind, body and spirit and spends quality time with her family, friends and colleagues. Her ICU and social work teams have also become extended members of her family.

“This year’s theme is more relevant as social workers work alongside the community and each other in strengthening social solidarity and enhancing connectedness,” Christine said.

Celebrating World Social Work Day at Auburn Hospital. Back row (left to right)- Leila Turk, Jemima Gaunt, Siraj Sarguroh, Tasman White, Jacinta Faddoul
Front row (left to right)- Danni King, Christina Gargoura, Amira Abdellatif, Tabata Rodriguez

The WSLHD Allied Health Strategic Plan 2019-2022 is a three-year plan that will tackle some of the more complex problems facing the diverse, vulnerable communities in Western Sydney. To view this plan, please click here.