I thought it would be easy to find reviews of social work related mobile apps to share. I was very surprised to find little written about social work specific apps. I found a lot of social work blogs have written about general work productivity apps or wrote about apps specific to a specific field of practice like working with individuals with ASD. What I found missing was a discussion of generalist apps.
One resource I found helpful in my search was a Pinterest board of social work related apps created by Dorlee M, MBA, LMSW and Nancy J. Smyth, Ph.D, LCSW. Smyth has written a lot about social work technology and is dean of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work.
Smyth was interviewed for a very thorough article in Social Work Today entitled “Mobile App Technology for Social Workers.” Written in 2012 the article’s author Lindsey Getz says: “The use of mobile technology in healthcare has secured a foothold. But while opportunities exist for social workers to adopt these technologies in their practices, acceptance has been slow. The reluctance is not surprising as the foundation of social work is built on human interaction. But the research and experience thus far indicates that mobile application technology has the capability to support the social worker-client relationship.”
In the same article Smyth says: “People want to know if there are mobile apps available to support them, and social workers are going to have to start familiarizing themselves with the technology as clients request it. Digital life skills is a new skill set that we need to have as social workers”
While Getz’s article is an important read, if you are looking for specific recommendations of apps for your field of practice you should check out The New Social Worker magazine. Their new technology columnist Ellen Belluomini, LCSW has started a new section called “Accessing Apps”. In her first two columns she has already covered a lot of ground, tackling Private Practice in the Spring 2013 issue and School Social Work in the Summer 2013 issue.
I’ll let you search for apps within your area of practice, but I wanted to whet your appetite a bit by highlighting a few general social work apps that caught my attention. I’ve not used any of them so this isn’t an endorsement. But here they are:
Test Prep: Both iTunes and Google Play Stores had several different apps that would help prepare you to take a licensure exam. I would spend some time looking at reviews before installing (and paying) for any of these apps. The few I looked at mentioned they are “not affiliated with nor is this app endorsed by the ASWB” and almost all cost money. (Guide to Social Work – iTunes, Google Play)
Social Work Social Media App uses a game approach to teach social work ethics around social media. The user watches scenarios and tells the team manager how to respond to different situations. Your decisions lead to the success or failure of the agency. (iTunes, Google Play, website)
The Savvy Social Worker is currently only available on Android devices (iTunes app coming soon) but claims to ”help you stay current with new developments in social work practice, especially evidence-based practices and best practices.” The app is developed and curated by the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. (Google Play)
Social Work Companion is designed for those living in the United Kingdom. However, it claims to offer “a comprehensive directory of social work and social care related news, events, practice reference, social work theories, law and guidance and information about services and resources in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.” (iTunes, Google Play, website)
Social Work Jobs for Android “lets job seekers find social worker jobs, social services jobs, counselor jobs in hospitals, medical centers and free-standing clinics. Review social work salary information. Learn about social work professional education requirements. Leave a business card and resume for hiring employers.” (Google Play)
I asked for some ideas of apps you use on NACSW’s Facebook group. Here are a few you mentioned:
PEPID has a whole host of medical related apps for both iPhones and Androids. The recommended app was their Portable Drug Companion. PEPID Portable Drug Companion (PDC) is a “proven reference tool and drug database. In addition to an exhaustive drug listing, PDC includes herbals, nutritional supplements and antidotes, as well as information on overdoses, drug-induced toxidromes and drug-related labs.” (website)
iTriage is a symptom checker, doctor finder, medical dictionary tool, and personal health record keeper all in one app. Created by ER doctors it lets you access a wide variety of medical information quickly. (iTunes, Google Play)
PFA Mobile can help first responders provide PFA (Psychological First Aid) to adults, children, and families following a disaster or other emergency. This app is for trained PFA providers and is adapted from the 2nd edition PFA Field Operations Guide. PFA Mobile is currently only available in iTunes, but the Google Play app is scheduled for 2013.
PTSD Coach has information about PTSD including symptoms and treatments. It also includes tools to track symptoms and screenings. The app also includes “direct links to support and help.” This app is listed on the Veteran’s Affairs website along with several others. (iTunes, Google Play)
Thought Diary Pro helps people record and change thoughts that cause distress. Developed by a clinical psychologist and CBT therapist the Pro version allows users to identify and modify thinking errors. The Pro version also allows the user to e-mail their reports directly to the therapist. (Pro: iTunes, TD: iTunes)
Wow, talk about app overload. That is a lot of different mobile applications to throw your way. What ones do you currently use in your practice? What apps do you wish were available for you today? If NACSW created an app what would you like to see it provide?
* I want to be clear that I’ve not used any of the above apps and NACSW nor myself endorse them.
Nick C., MSW, is Program Coordinator at Sanford Middle School in Minneapolis and social media consultant. He has been a member of NACSW since 2003. Find Nick on Twitter @crossn81