Home // Latest News // Meet the new Head of Social Work leading some exciting new projects

Meet the new Head of Social Work leading some exciting new projects

Dr Meghan O’Brien joined Peninsula Health last year as the Head of Social Work, and brings more than 25 years of experience to the role.

The variety of work at Peninsula Health and the opportunity to be involved in more research, with plans for a new Research and Education Centre at Frankston Hospital, attracted Meghan to join her local health service.

“What is very unique about working at Peninsula Health is that we have patients across the lifespan – we have social workers based in maternity services and paediatrics and we also have the privilege of working with older patients and their families towards the end of their life,” explains Meghan.

“Our local geographical areas are some of the most disadvantaged within the state. This translates to our social workers dealing with high levels of vulnerability, complexity, financial hardship, homelessness and high levels of family violence.”

As Peninsula Health grows, there has been an increasing demand for social workers, with positions currently available for more social workers to join the team.

 “With the growth of a number of areas across the organisation we have been able to demonstrate how social work can add value to both the organisation and the patient experience,” says Meghan.

“This is the work we contribute around patient flow and the work we undertake around adjustment to illness and advocacy for our patients.”

“There are many opportunities across the health service for social workers to gain more experience and become involved in specialised areas of clinical practice, student training, staff supervision, professional development and research,” adds Meghan.

 “It is an exciting time – social work is involved in a number of new initiatives and projects.”

These initiatives being led by the Social Work department include:

  • A weekend Social Work service at Frankston Hospital and Golf Links Road Rehabilitation Centre.
  • Trial of a full time Social Work clinician in the Emergency Department.
  • Implementing a ‘whole of organisation’ response to Family Violence through the Strengthening Hospital Response to Family Violence Project
  • Being one of five sites in Victoria to embed an elder abuse trial in responding to suspected elder abuse
  • Embedding a lawyer into the Social Work department through a Health Justice Partnership with Peninsula Community Legal Centre
  • A Senior Social Work Project Worker is supporting healthcare professionals around the new changes with the NDIS

Meghan has been involved in a lot of research over the course of her career, with elder abuse being one area of particular focus.

“I have always been interested in human rights and older people, ever since I worked in an Aged Care Assessment team,” she explains.

In 2017, Meghan completed her PhD in the area of elder abuse at the University of Melbourne. She examined how health professionals can improve their confidence, competence and knowledge in responding to suspected elder abuse. The findings from her research have now been translated into specialist training being rolled out across 88 hospitals in Victoria.  

If you’d like to work with Meghan and the Social Work Department at Peninsula Health, there are currently opportunities to join the team. 

“We’re looking for social workers who have a strong professional identity, are team orientated and committed to work together to achieve clinical excellence and positive outcomes for our clients,” says Meghan.

“We believe and encourage lifelong learning and staff wellbeing. We can offer the opportunity to be involved in service improvement activities, ongoing mentoring, on-site professional development as well as the chance to rotate between acute and sub-acute sites to gain valuable experience in dealing with different patient groups.”

Find out more and apply online today.

Meghan and some of the Social Work team.