Posted Thursday, April 3, 2014 by Team Northwoods

What Would Social Workers Do With an Extra Hour Every Day?

What would the average person do with an extra hour a day?

Most people (at least according to a recent HuffPost poll) would relax, exercise, sleep, or spend more time with family or friends.

What would a social worker do with an extra hour a day?

Spend more time with the families they are working to protect (according to a new Colburn and Associates time study).

The study conducted with social workers from Fairfield County Child and Adult Protective Services in Lancaster, Ohio found that Northwoods’ Compass® CoPilot on a mobile tablet computer decreased documentation time by about an hour, which social workers were able to shift to direct contact with clients.

Here is the breakdown:

  • On average, each social worker spent 63 more minutes with families every day, a 9.3 percent increase
  • Documentation time decreased by 58 minutes, a 11.7 percent drop
  • For every hour spent with clients, social workers spent 1.33 hours after implementing Compass CoPilot compared to 2.38 hours on documentation before implementing the mobile solution

Time Spent Per Day

The study also found that travel time increased by 5 percent. Social workers attributed the increase to having more time to help families with transportation to doctor or other important appointments, things they didn’t have enough time to do before.

Document Time to Client Contact TimeWe’re not surprised with this research. Social workers always tell us they got into social work to make a difference, not to do paperwork. The best way to do that is spending time with families, not drowning in documentation.

The study didn’t show that social workers did less paperwork. They can’t. That paperwork is necessary for compliance with state and federal regulations for child and adult protective services. What the study shows is that when given a tool to reduce the complexity and burden of paperwork, social workers spend less time doing the same amount of documentation so they have more time to focus on what really matters: protecting children and protecting families.

Read the full time study
Watch a related case study

(Photo: Jackie Davis, Intake and Assessment Social Worker, Fairfield County Child and Adult Protective Services, using Compass CoPilot at a foster home.)