Health care and social work are two fields that often cross paths. Taking steps toward providing more care for people has always been the goal for both industries. Understanding the history behind some of these steps can help you comprehend future possibilities. The following are five surprising facts about social work.

A History Of Helping Hands: 5 Surprising Facts About Social Work

Started with Religious People

A brief look at history will show that social work, as people know it, began with the church. Constantine I instituted the church in the 4th century, and it was able to provide homes for the elderly, shelter for the homeless, hospitals, and even orphanages. Taking care of the poor is something that exists in most religious texts, so it make sense that social work started there.

Church Changed Society

The church was in charge of people for a long time, but it started to change things during the Middle Ages. The teachings of the Christian church influenced European society enough to get regular folk involved. People started to link a person’s piety with their ability to care and provide charity to others. Caring for people became important to more than just those involved in the church.

It Changed the Law

Early political bodies started to notice that poverty was something that the state could no longer ignore. The Act for the Relief of the Poor was introduced in 1597 though it was later refined and called the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601, which was one of the first laws to offer state-funded relief to the poor. Payment and food was offered to those who were too sick or too old to work. It was the first time society as a whole took action against poverty.

Modernized Patient Care

Patient care did not become modernized until the 1800’s. First, there was Helen Bosanquet and Octavia Hill who formed the Charity Organization Society in 1869. They pioneered the idea of social work as a professional occupation. These small changes opened the door to Florence Nightingale, who is considered a nursing pioneer. She was able to revolutionize nursing and the importance of quality care. In just six months, she was able to drop the mortality rate due to disease from 42.7 percent to 2.2 percent at an army hospital simply because she cared about sanitation.

There was a Public Service Push

Poverty, social work, and general health of the public used to concern religious people but moved to the concern of the state. Some individuals moved in, but it was not until the 1900s that entire populations worried about this. Concepts like pensions for the elderly and health care insurance began to be a part of social conversations. People like H.H. Asquith and William Beveridge began the changes that would later result in socialized care and health care enjoyed by many developed countries.

It is clear that societal issues regarding the poor and those that need social services has been in existence for ages. People have been trying to change things for a very long time and have been successful. The fight is not over, and it probably will never be, but the point is to try because people are worth it. If you want to help be involved in this fight, consider pursing a degree in social work. Today it’s easier than ever to get involved as you can even get a masters in social work online