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Supporting private practitioners

SUPPORTING PRIVATE PRACTITIONERS

BY PAM ROBERTS, MSW, RSW, PRIVATE PRACTICE COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR

This year, the private practice committee worked diligently on the task set before us at the AGM in May 2018. We also held an informal gathering of social workers in private practice at the conference to hear their priorities for our work as a committee. Three main themes evolved from this discussion which also guided our work:

1. Advocacy efforts to have MSW services equally recognized in employee’s health insurance plans,

2. for the College to set a recommended rate of service, and

3. to develop a community of support.

When we resumed our meetings in the fall, we knew we had a lot of work to do. Council changed the terms of reference for our committee so that one no longer needed an MSW or PhD to be a member, and two new members joined us in the fall. Also, Pam replaced Tonya as co-chair of the committee in November 2018 after Tonya graciously stayed on as chair past her term.

Here are some highlights of where are, so far, on this work:

AGM 2019

At the AGM in 2018, the private practice committee was tasked with the following:

“the membership directs the College’s Private Practice Committee to continue further considerations for this bylaw change to section 32 (1)b outlining the private practice requirements. As part of deliberations, the committee will bring a specific recommendation with detailed rationale to members at the next AGM in 2019.”

There was a lot to think about and consider. We wanted to develop recommendations that were fair, reasonable, promoted our profession, and served first and foremost to protect the public. The first thing that became abundantly clear was a problem with language. Our Act defines social work private practice as “self-employment.” However everyone, including our committee, was using the terms private practice and clinical practice interchangeably.

We surveyed the membership for feedback on a number of issues. As a committee, there was agreement that there was not a need to further regulate social workers who want to be in private practice/self-employed. This led to discussions and debates on regulation regarding clinical social work. A draft clinical registration policy was created as well as a draft definition of clinical social work. One of our committee members also sat the ASWB exam. Alec wrote a discussion piece for our newsletter and he has been gathering lots of feedback from the membership over the winter and spring.

A policy paper has been written for the AGM, where you will find our recommendations on this issue.

INSURANCE EQUITY

Through our research and discussions, it has become clear that most insurance companies will include social work on their plans. The gap is when the employer purchases a plan, whether they include social work as a paraprofessional or not in the package they select. The goal of our advocacy work is to increase community access to MSW services by advocating that social work be included equal to other health professionals.

To that end, we have developed a spectrum of allies which identifies those employers in the province who range from active supporters to active opponents. And most recently the college’s communication coordinator has joined our efforts and is helping us develop a communication strategy to target those employers who may not yet see what a great service is waiting for their employees.

RECOMMENDED RATE:

Members in private practice requested a recommended rate. A recommended rate for a profession allows insurance companies to set reimbursement rates for their members, provides those new to setting up their own practice a guideline for setting their fees, and it promotes the professionalism of social work.

This rate covers hours of work when outside of direct therapy (which as social workers we do a lot more of than other professions), income tax, professional development, sick time, vacation time, health coverage, rent/overhead, and other expenses.

We reviewed the rates for MSW services across the country and across different disciplines. We also had feedback from our networking meeting in May 2018. After much research and debate we are bringing to the AGM a proposal that the College set a recommended rate of $160/session. This will be voted on by the membership.

COMMUNITY OF SUPPORT

Unfortunately, there has not been as much time to work on this as we would have liked. We are just now moving towards developing a private practice portal on the NSCSW website. We would like to be able to share professional development opportunities, information and support for anyone starting their own practice, networking opportunities and more as this idea develops. We look forward to another informal gathering of MSWs working in private practice at the conference this year to update you on the committee’s work and get your input.

The private practice committee is made up of a great group of hard-working social workers from across the province who graciously volunteer their time towards these important endeavors. Our meetings can get pretty lively, as you can imagine, but they are also thought-provoking, thoughtful and innovative. It’s a privilege to work on these issues alongside such caring, professional and experienced social workers.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Pam Roberts (Chair), Nelda Armour, Annemieke Vink (staff), April Munro-Woods, Beth Toomey, Denise Robichaud, Heidi Sturgeon, Jeff Karabanow, Jen Morris, Jennifer Van Kessel, Neal Henderson, Tonya Grant