Mystery and Magic: Perceptions of Social Work within an Acute Hospital Setting

Lorne Power, Laurel Dean, Lucy Evans, Andrew Haughton, Cath Holmstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Health and social care integration has been promoted by successive governments as the answer to meeting increased need within limited budgets. However, there has been little research in the UK regarding Social Workers working in integrated health teams. This study explores how social work is perceived by a range of professionals working within three different models of integration in the same acute hospital in the South-East of England. The research team (all practicing social workers) used a mixed method approach - combining questionnaires and focus groups – to explore similarities and differences in the perception of the social work role held by professionals working within contexts which had different types or models of integration. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data identified five key themes. These included social workers: providing ‘checks and balances’ to health professionals, ‘linking and bridging’ between the hospital, the community and patients, holding ‘mysterious knowledge’, having ‘strong interpersonal skills’ and providing a ‘function in team dynamics’’. We conclude by outlining recommendations for practice and further research, the limitations of our
study and our approach to reflexivity as research practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-423
Number of pages19
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2023


  • Integration
  • Health and social care
  • Hospital social work
  • Multi-disciplinary
  • Integrated care
  • Partnership working


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