Development concept for research and international relations in the degree programme Health Care-Social Work

Starting points for the concept

The degree programme ‘Health Care-Social Work’ was accredited at the Faculty of Social Studies in 2011 – initially as a Bachelor degree in the degree subject ‘Health Social Worker’. The programme trains students as social work professionals in the health care sector. In 2014 the programme was expanded to include a Master’s-level degree in the subject ‘Coordination of Rehabilitation and Long-Term Health and Social Care’, offered both as a full-time programme and a combined (i.e. part-distance) programme. This degree is organized along two key axes: (1) rehabilitation care coordination (RHC), and (2) long-term care (LTC).

The degree programme ‘Health Care-Social Work’ builds on a previous five-year Master’s programme that was run by the former Medical-Social Faculty at the University of Ostrava (‘Social Work for the Health Care Sector’) between 1995 and 2013. This was followed by a Bachelor degree in ‘Social Care in Health Care and Geriatric Care’ (up to 2006).

These degree programmes – straddling the boundary between health care and social work – responded (and continue to respond) to clearly articulated societal needs set out in national-level documents such as the Psychiatric Care Reform Strategy, the National Equal Opportunities Support Plan for Disabled Citizens 2015-2020, and the National Action Plan Supporting Positive Ageing 2013-2017. These expert documents acknowledge a shortage of professionals whose knowledge and skills enable them to meet the challenging demands of interdisciplinary health care and social care work. Responding to this need, the degree programme ‘Health Care-Social Work’ places its primary emphasis on the interdisciplinary context of social work in the health care sector. Under current higher education legislation in the Czech Republic, the programme falls within two distinct educational areas: Social Work and Health Care/Medical Professions.

Research activities

Research with relevance to the degree programme ‘Health Care-Social Work’ is in line with the Faculty’s Long-Term Development Plan 2016-2020. In 2016 a research group was set up to focus on long-term social care in health care:

The group focuses on applied research with clear practical outputs that can be implemented within the context of long-term social care in the health care sector. The key research topic for the period up to 2020 is the issue of informal care (within families) for individuals suffering long-term or terminal illnesses or permanent disability.

This topic responds to three key issues and challenges: (1) the general lack of interest among researchers into adult family members in the context of what they expect from family systems; (2) the lack of information about the needs of adults acting as long-term carers for family members requiring all-day care; (3) the experience of these adult carers and their means of coping with difficult life situations connected with long-term constant care for a family member.

Potential areas of research in the context of current societal practices:

  • The “care gap” as a phenomenon of contemporary society
  • The importance of informal care from the demographic perspective
  • The problem of defining informal carers
  • Care for people in the terminal stages of illness from the perspective of family carers
  • Impacts of informal care on the carer and the family
  • Family carers from the perspective of risks (health problems of carers, social isolation among informal carers, burnout syndrome, problems in family relationships, disadvantages on the labour market, financial costs and risk of poverty, etc.)
  • The needs of informal carers
  • Support for informal care in the context of social policy
  • Critical areas in the implementation of financial tools to support informal care in the Czech Republic, the Moravian-Silesian Region, and Ostrava
  • The “sandwich generation” as a model of unsupported family care

The interdisciplinary nature of the research requires various forms of cooperation with experts from the University’s Faculty of Medicine plus other relevant institutions in the Czech Republic and abroad.

These research activities also involve students at the Faculty of Social Studies, especially from the doctoral degree programme ‘Social Work’ (whose doctoral dissertations focus on aspects of this interdisciplinary area) plus talented Master’s-level students in the programme ‘Health Care-Social Work’. We also consider it important to involve students with specific educational needs in the research.

International relations

In accordance with its Long-Term Development Plan 2016-2020, the Faculty actively develops its relations with both existing and new international partners specializing in social care as part of the health care sector. This collaboration helps to support interdisciplinary international cooperation in teaching and research. Mobility (for both students and academics) focuses on the two key axes of the Master’s degree: (1) rehabilitation care coordination (RHC) and (2) long-term care (LTC).

Updated: 10. 01. 2018

Research at the Department of Social Studies

Research at the Department focuses on current issues in society with relevance to social work and social policy – including social exclusion, the social impacts of de-industrialization, and issues connected with the welfare state and its modernization. Other topics of research include the health of persons living in shelters, the perception of safety among the general public in the Moravian-Silesian Region, and issues of informal family care for people with long-term or terminal illnesses and/or permanent disabilities.

Updated: 22. 11. 2017