Change in healthcare legislation: social workers now included in Ukraine’s multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams

Kyiv, 29 December 2023 – In a landmark initiative, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Office of the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Social Policy, and the Ministry of Health, has successfully championed a pivotal amendment to Ukraine’s healthcare legislation. The Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 1285, a direct outcome of this collaboration, revolutionizes the structure of multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams in healthcare settings by mandating the inclusion of social workers in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

The resolution outlines the functions of social workers in healthcare institutions. It assigns their responsibilities related to assessing individual needs, providing information on social protection issues (supplying assistive technology, assigning social assistance and payments, facilitating social services, undergoing military medical examination or medical and social expert examinations), offering counselling, psychosocial support, etc.

Yulia Sokolovska, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said there is a growing need for rehabilitation due to the war, adding that the state’s priority is to restore citizens to active, whole lives. “Our commitment extends beyond physical healing to fostering psychological, social, and professional recovery,” she said. “It’s crucial to enable individuals to rebuild their lives, gain economic independence, and integrate fully into society.”

Yulia Sokolovska reported that the methodologies of the pilot project and the approach to the social worker’s role in rehabilitation teams will be expanded at the national level following the latest regulatory changes.

Olena Kulchytska, Advisor to the Minister of Social Policy, said an integrated approach to providing services is crucial for effective rehabilitation.

“With this approach, rehabilitation specialists focus on restoring a person’s physical health, and the involvement of social workers enables the identification of a person’s needs for social services, providing them with the necessary assistance,” she said. “A social worker can assist with restoring documents, providing information about assistive technology, or assisting in the appointment of payments – offering the social support that a person in difficult circumstances requires.”

Christophoros Politis, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, said the project is having a transformative impact on the delivery of social services in Ukraine.

“This initiative has inherently redefined the role of social workers within the rehabilitation realm, markedly improving health and social service quality, accessibility and comprehensiveness during challenging wartime conditions,” he said. “For UNDP, we are proud to work with government partners as Ukraine changes the paradigm of rehabilitation. We remain committed to advancing health care and social inclusion policies that enhance the sustainable development of Ukraine and expedite its recovery.”

Orchestrated in partnership with the Office of the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Health Protection, and CF SpivDiia, the project led to the creation and ratification of comprehensive documentation. This package, collaboratively developed with state partners, clearly outlines social workers’ responsibilities and procedures in patient care, including job descriptions, working algorithms, consent forms, assessment tools, and monitoring protocols. These documents, tested and refined during the pilot, laid the groundwork for the legislative changes, including the new service recipient needs assessment form incorporated in the Resolution’s Annex.

In addition to the Resolution, changes were made to the requirements of the Medical Guarantee Programme for 2024. According to the changes, all institutions providing rehabilitation assistance to adults and children in hospital conditions must ensure the involvement of a social worker in the multidisciplinary rehabilitation team.

Background: This flagship initiative was implemented within the project “Supporting the rehabilitation of people with disabilities caused by the war,” together with the Office of the President, the Ministry of Social Policy, and the Ministry of Health in Ukraine. It received financial support from the Governments of the Republic of Korea and Germany.

Media enquiries:

Yuliia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Head of Communications; e-mail: [email protected]

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