Professional Master’s Degree Students’ Perceptions on the Changes Digitalisation Imposes on Counselling in the Social and Health Care Sector
The Current Study
- What kind of effects does work practice digitalisation and especially online interaction with clients have on your work?
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Research Setting and Participants
2.2. Data and Analysis
3.1. Towards Blended Professionalism in Digitalised Social and Health Care Work
3.1.1. The Compression of Work
The organisations encounter new kinds of challenges due to the ageing population and the increase in patient numbers, so I believe that there is a pressure to develop possibilities related to online counselling for patient work.
I believe that online counselling could allocate more time for the tasks that require face-to-face interaction with the clients. There are many tasks that can be done online.
From a professional perspective, it is good to consider how to draw strict boundaries between the work and the spare time. Are we, the professionals, reachable 24/7? There are many drawbacks in this situation (online services), not only the fact that people are working during their spare time, but also issues concerning the security of the technology systems and legislation when working online.
Online counselling opens new doors and possibilities for the professionals, the clients and the society. The working ways change and the appointments do not take place solely behind the closed doors, since the client can have online counselling from the professional while being at home or abroad.
Functionality and Security of Digital Technology and Systems
Today all the information concerning the patient is documented to the electronic client record system of the organisation. However, the problem is that these systems are incongruent between organisations, and therefore the information from one organisation does not go forward to the other.
In the client record systems, there are a lot of confidential medical records of the patients and because of that, there should be extra attention paid on the security issues.
In online counselling, there should be an understanding that the virtual identity of the client differs from the actual identity. It is important for the professional to understand this and keep it in mind when interacting with the client virtually.
3.1.2. The Disembodied Professionalism
In the middle of thesocial and health care reform, the professional must be able to grow professionally and develop himself/herself in order to keep up with the digital leap.
When I think of online counselling … if all interaction with the clients would happen online, I would lose a great part of my expertise related to the interaction with the clients.
The video calls do not protect the social and health care professionals from inappropriate behaviour of the client. You cannot even necessarily guarantee the client’s identity in online settings. The client might endanger your personal life by photographing you while online. Face-to-face meeting ensures that if the client behaves inappropriately, you can always call the guard. How do you handle this kind of situation online?
It might be easier for the teenager to contact and meet the professional online rather than face-to-face, because the onlineenvironment is natural to them.
Is it possible that in the future, the only contacts that the senior citizens have are the digital ones? I believe that these (online services) function well with some patients, but not all patients have the required resources for this.
Trust in Online Counselling
When discussing with the client via video screen, it is important that the relationship with the client and the professional is genuinely trustworthy. The situation in which the client tells about his/her problems to the professional, is vulnerable. The task of the professional is to guarantee that the trust is established, the discussion is confidential and there are no interruptions during the session.
The idea of the world developing so much that the patient, the doctor and the health care professional all interact online and 24/7 contradicts my personal views … since face-to-face interaction is easier than online interaction. When meeting the patient face-to-face, it is much easier to consult a doctor or a colleague without making the patient to question what is actually going on with the situation.
On the other hand, the physical presence in the situation enables us to express empathy better (compared to online interaction), and the employee can use nonverbal signals in establishing trust between the client and the employee. It is important that the employee acknowledges the client’s genuine experiences, emotions and the fact that the online interaction is confidential.
The Digitalised, Self-Sufficient Client
People are more competent and capable of advocating their rights, and they can scrutinise the data and the information gathered fromtheir lives. The clients require accurate documentation on themselves and, when needed, the documentation must be revised.
In the future, self-help and self-care will increase as a way of maintaining good health and staying healthy. The clients’ more independent role in acquiring service will increase. In my opinion, the clients have become more active and this trend will increase in the future.
The deployment of online services changes health care services and increases clients’ responsibility for their own health and well-being.
In the counselling session, the client is not merely a target to whom the professional provides and pours all the information. The professional is not an all-encompassing authority to the client. The client is equal to the professional and the client is an expert of his/her own life. The professional can support the client in counselling. Nevertheless, the purpose of the technology is to support the client in decision-making and enable the client for the fullest self-care.
Conflicts of Interest
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Silvennoinen, P. Professional Master’s Degree Students’ Perceptions on the Changes Digitalisation Imposes on Counselling in the Social and Health Care Sector. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 6243. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176243
Silvennoinen P. Professional Master’s Degree Students’ Perceptions on the Changes Digitalisation Imposes on Counselling in the Social and Health Care Sector. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(17):6243. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176243Chicago/Turabian Style
Silvennoinen, Piia. 2020. "Professional Master’s Degree Students’ Perceptions on the Changes Digitalisation Imposes on Counselling in the Social and Health Care Sector" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 17: 6243. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176243