Thursday, December 27, 2012

5 Types of Mobile Phone Apps for Social Workers

Edralyn Chan acknowledges social workers by searching through applications for ones which will specifically be helpful to our profession. Below you will find the article with specific examples of Apps for social workers.

Reference Apps

New graduates and veterans alike can benefit from a wide range of reference apps. Social Work Exam Pro is only one of many iPhone apps that helps in preparation for state licensure. Other exam reference apps have been developed for every platform. PocketPharmacist, iPharmacy and iPrescribe are all prescription drug reference apps allowing you to check for side effects and contraindications quickly in the field. If you need access to special terminology or legal definitions, be sure there is an app that can help.

Tracking Patient Data

Clients are often given homework by their social workers. This might involve a daily recording of mood or tracking of symptoms. Moody Me is used by some professional social workers and even psychiatrists. It tracks and stores data on your mood and asks pertinent questions about the surrounding conditions in order to provide a form of biofeedback.

Sharing Apps with Clients

Moody Me is a great app useful for both clients and their social workers. Other trackers make it convenient for clients to log the appropriate information required by their worker. This is especially useful for patients who routinely forget to log data. Some professionals have resorted to an automatic texting service, which reminds patients of their responsibilities.

Self-care Made Convenient

Social workers are more prone to job-stress than most other professionals. Certain jobs take social workers into horrific situations on a regular basis, so self-monitoring and care are essential to avoid burnout or worse. Live Happy is an app that prompts you to engage in periodic activities proven to ward off chronic stress. Tactical Breather was developed by the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder as a guided relaxation app.

Communication Facilitation

Social workers sometimes find communication with recent immigrants, cultural enclaves, and the disabled to be difficult if not impossible. Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of apps available for every type of mobile device to help with communication problems. You won’t have to coordinate efforts with a linguist or waste time searching for writing supplies with the right app. Another series of programs allows you to record sessions and take easily referenced notes.
Advances in mobile technology bring an array of tools to the field. The biggest hurdle for social workers who could benefit from these apps is simply a lack of knowledge on what is available. A little research reveals numerous apps capable of helping with every aspect of social work!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Technology Apps in Africa

Solving poor food distribution, helping connect pregnant mothers with resources? Isn't this the type of application social workers would advocate for in the US? Africa is utilizing smart phone technology by developing applications to link solutions with social issues in their country.  Grants enable entrepreneurs and innovators to problem solve through utilization of cutting edge technologies. This type of attitude towards change opens the door to research in any country for technology integration.

Link to article:

AfDB Invests in Kenya's Young Innovators

Monday, November 19, 2012

Personalize a Client's Experience at your Agency

Videos have become part of main stream America, just Google Tobuscus or Justin Bieber to see the influence of YouTube on their careers. Any Linkster or Y generation kid will know who you are talking about. So what does this have to do with social work? Here is opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is to identify and develop client specific content. The challenge is to take the next step of creating your own educational videos to address your populations. Video recorders are available for a minimum amount of money or can be obtained on e-bay for even less. Windows 8 comes with free video editing software to make it easy to deliver your educational message. It is easier than you may think...

Links to examples of client specific videos:

Personal Grooming

How to Interview for a Job : Skills Assessment for a Job Interview 

Social Skills for Life: Managing Strong Emotions

Link to Article: 

How to Craft the Perfect Instructional Video for Social Media 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Times they are a changing....

As a manager of a non-profit, I remember hoping to find a volunteer who could help us create a website or knew how to create an Access database to store our statistics for grants. Free of charge of course. Now, instead of saving our money for another grant writer or fundraiser, non-profits are needing social media managers. A few years ago I would have questioned the sanity of this position. The current state of technology allows creative methods to fundraising leading to help non-profits during difficult financial times. This position should have an understanding of non-profits, but most importantly not be a social service provider. A social media position is a specialty, just as social work. Investing in the right person may make or break funding for years in your organizations future.

Link to Article:

11 Qualities of a social media manager

Friday, November 9, 2012

I can't find a book I will make one!

Therapy with children is a chance for a virtual creative Waterloo. Trying to locate a book for my specific child client about their specific issue is sometimes a nightmare. These specific apps for the iPad can transform a therapeutic practice with children in two ways. First, as a therapist, I can create my own books specific to the issues I see most often in my practice. I can base the books on evidence based practice and research on the topic made into kid friendly books. The second way to integrate this app is to have the children develop their own book on the topic. They can choose the characters and the lessons for them to learn. Today's digitally savvy kids will be engaged at a whole new level!
             Visualize                                      Puppet Pals                              Toontastic

Link to Resource:

Digital Storytelling Apps

Using the Computer:

My Story Telling

Lego Comic Builder

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gen Y Social Workers

Generation Y or "Digital Natives" have known nothing other than a life of instant communication or information at their fingertips. This generation will be heralding integrating technology into their social work practice without the blink of an eye while their mentors and educators struggle with the functions of e-mail or texting.
  •  93% of teens ages 12-17 go online, as do 93% of young adults ages 18-29.
  • 75% of Gen Y have created a profile on a social networking site.
  • 1 in every 5 Gen Y have posted a video of themselves online.
  •  41% of Gen Y use only a cell phone and have no landline.
  • Over half of YouTube’s users are under 20 years old.
  • 53% of the total blogging population is 21-35 years old.
 If you are from the silent generation, a baby boomer or from generation X how many of the above statistics apply to you? As a social worker from generation X, I applaud you if you find this blog. How do you teach the foundations of social work with the emerging Web 2.0 needed to function in society? There is no population social work touches that cannot benefit from some type of technology. It is only our biases holding the profession down.

 Links to Websites:

  Pew Research Center 2010 report, Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next 
  YouTube via Danny Brown 
  Sysomos 2010 report via Mashable

 Schembri, A. M. (2008). Australian Social Work, 61(2), 119-123. doi:10.1080/03124070801998376

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Whole New World for School Social Workers

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is an initiative of the Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education. This initiative offers assistance to build information and technical assistance to identify adapt and sustain effective disciplinary practices within the school system. There are three prevention tiers providing evidence based interventions for students. If you are in school social work you already know this. These are two websites developed for PBIS, Technical Assistance Center for PBIS, to use as a tool for education of others at schools using interventions and PBIS World. The Technical Assistance Center for PBIS offers videos, research based evidence, state resources, and training on the functions of PBIS. PBIS World gives support to not only social workers but other school system personnel needing information on behaviors and prevention tiers. An easy to access database is just a click away from identifying behavior, choosing an intervention, and using data tracking forms for outcomes.
Links to Website:

 TA Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

PBIS World

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Resistance is Futile

Conversations inevitably come up on various online and in person chats about integrating technology into a social worker's practice. (Okay, I instigate them.) Quite frankly it is amazing the amount of clinicians, case managers, program directors, and directors in a stage of denial about this transformation of society. I hear many reasons why technology is not an issue.

"I work with immigrants."
"People with mental illness have other issues to worry about."
"I do not want to be tech support to my clients."
"My client population will not understand...isn't capable...doesn't have access...can't speak English" Fill in the blank with said excuse.

Technology manifests in many forms, evidence based practices, education, apps, connection through social media, communication (texting and e-mails), therapy tools, empowerment, employment, advocacy, ethics, policies and procedures, are just a few areas to consider.  I understand change is difficult. As an educator, I am constantly having to update my skills in technology just to keep up with the twenty somethings going to school. I feel like I am in a constant state of guilt/incompetence, acceptance, frustration with trying, then on to the inevitable understanding and integration. Maybe this is where my dedication to the mission of educating social workers not familiar with technological mayhem starts.

I admit, being an ENFP temperament type gives me an edge to seeing the bigger picture of the impact technology could have on social services. Hence the blog, giving workshops, my research and a book, supporting this passion. I will not stop educating people through this process of change to see the potential technology serves. The world is open to us as social workers. Only we can close the doors to this new and valuable resource. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Seniors and LGBTQ support in...Iowa?

Congratulations, Johnson County, Iowa. This progressive county addresses the needs of LGBTQ seniors in their area holistically and uniquely. A website, created by the county, outlines a "livable community" with resources, lists of upcoming events for LGBTQ seniors and allies, and services improving the lives of this neglected population. Creating websites makes resources visible. Many LGBTQ seniors suffer from the inequalities of law (not receiving partners medicare, pensions, tax benefits, social security, etc.), family isolation, and local intolerance. There are 3 million elderly LGBTQ person's in the United States with that number set to hit 4 million by 2030 (Cahill, South, & Spade, 2000). This is a generation of baby boomers, either growing up in fear of whom they love or fighting for the rights of who they love. SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Elders) are advocates for this population during this time of transition.

Link to Resource:

Johnson County Livable Community

SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Elders)


Cahill, S., South, K., & Spade, J. (2000). Outing age: Public policy issues affecting
gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender elders. Washington, DC: National Gay
and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Caregivers Relief in Site

Caregivers are consistently under the  stress of knowing what is going on with a loved one being cared for in the home. What if you could offer the caregivers of elderly parents a way to monitor their family from their home or work computer? A new resource, eCaring, is starting to offer this service in different parts of the country. Information on the family member's activities, health condition and mental or physical state is on a computer program.The caregiver has the options of what train the health care worker to track; diet, activity, mental state, toileting, personal care, medical appointments, all in one program.  Home health care workers or aids input the information into a computer. If a health problem occurs, an alert would sound to the caregiver's phone. This type of program may alleviate much of the stress caregivers experience.

Start Using eCaring Now!

Link to Resource:


Saturday, October 20, 2012 a theraputic tool

No more buying magazines, glue sticks, scissors, and poster board for those vision boards, now we can use Pinterest. Pinterest is a picture pinning social network. I am a fan of vision boards. Clients can physically manifest ideas and have a focal point of positive vision. Clients can have a vision board categorized by career, self care, goals, family, any area needing focus. The vision board on this site is portable. Pinterest can go with the client on their phone or tablet. The website can be used to focus on affirmations, changing thoughts in moments of depression, or a meditation during the day. This site is an easy tutorial away from offering an alternative to those clients interested in homework with a technology twist.Are there any other ways you can think of using Pinterest?

Link to Article:

In Defense of Pinterest

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Technology Access through Libraries for Homeless

Do social workers reach out to local libraries to advocate for their client populations? Now the American Library Association has made it easier by providing a guide to address lack of services to undeserved populations. This comprehensive tool kit includes technology access and education, and how to outreach services to area agencies. It is great to see other services in the community addressing the digital divide in a concerted effort towards inclusion. Forward this link onto your area librarian to support services for vulnerable populations in your area. If you think of another creative way to utilize it, post it!
Link to Resource:

Effective and Proven Tools for Library Service to Poor and Homeless People