Social work and telehealth


  • Margaret Alston Newcastle University
  • Carole Adamson Registered social worker
  • Jenny Boddy Griffith University
  • Kelly Irons Newcastle University


• Social work,, telehealth, Covid 19, ICT


INTRODUCTION: The Covid-19 pandemic which swept the world in 2020, and the corresponding measures that were adopted in Australia and New Zealand to keep people safe, had a significant impact on health services delivery. While the pandemic led to serious impacts on mental health, financial circumstances and homelessness, for many social workers, the directive to work from home critically affected their ability to deliver services to vulnerable clients needing ongoing support. Telehealth was adopted by many services that had not previously used this mode of service delivery, which enabled social workers to continue to work with clients.

METHOD: Drawing on a narrative review of literature and a mixed method survey of 208 Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand social workers (71% of whom were from New Zealand), this article describes social workers’ experiences in adopting telehealth and their views on how it may continue to be used as a mode of service delivery.

FINDINGS: Social workers note problems such as technology issues, including patchy information and communications technology (ICT) services, particularly in rural areas, and, for some, a necessary reliance on personal equipment; client interactions, including client lack of access to ICT services and equipment; and personal circumstances, including the need to home-school children during the pandemic, and difficulty separating work and personal hours.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite challenges, there was also agreement from many workers that telehealth is a strategy that should be retained because of the benefits for both clients who struggle to attend face-to-face meetings and for workers.

Author Biography

Jenny Boddy, Griffith University

Associate Professor and Dean (Sustainable Development Goals Performance) | 
Office of the Vice Chancellor, Griffith University


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How to Cite

Alston, M., Adamson, C., Boddy, J., & Irons, K. (2024). Social work and telehealth. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 36(1), 102–113. Retrieved from



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