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Meet Jack Jenkinson and the UHNBC Social Work team! 


Large group of social workers
Social Work Team at UHNBC along with their practicum students celebrating Social Work Week 2024.

As a regional hub for health care services, the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) in Prince George is a trailblazer of high-quality patient care in the North. The Social Work team at UHNBC has been delivering exactly this outcome.

At any given time, 20 to 30 per cent of the patients at UHNBC are not from Prince George. This means the UHNBC Social Work team has had to become experts on service gaps as they relate to patient discharges and transfers. Whether it’s a transfer for a higher level of care to a bigger centre such as Vancouver, or helping a patient return to their home community, the UHNBC Social Work team works proactively to make the process as smooth as possible.

One of the ways they lead in this area is by using electronic health records. This practice falls in line with Northern Health’s SaferCare project to create more accessible documentation and improve communication across the organization. This has led to other allied health disciplines at Northern Health doing the same. Colleagues at other health authorities often say they greatly appreciate the social work documentation processes up North because this is important information they often look for in patient charts, which can directly influence patient/client care. Not only has this team shown resiliency in a difficult post-pandemic era, but they have also built a strong sense of cohesion through the challenges they’ve faced. As well, they never miss an opportunity to support and celebrate one another.

During the past five years, the size of this team has doubled. Where there used to be only one unit with rotational staff, the hospital now has four units with seven-day coverage.

Jack Jenkinson, the UHNBC Social Work Lead, has been the primary advocate for many of these changes. He says there is a growing understanding that "accidents don't occur during business hours" and that social work services are a critical part of care delivery.

Two social workers pose for photo
Jack Jenkinson (lead social worker, UHNBC) and Furqana Khan (program specialist, P&CC) travelled to Fraser Health Authority in 2023 to gather resources about standardized orientation for social workers.

Jack was also the first to pilot a 144-hour orientation program for new staff; its positive impacts on recruitment and retention are becoming apparent as the Social Work department continues to grow to meet increased demand.

Under Jack's leadership, the UHNBC Social Work team participated in the support and delivery of the inaugural Regional Social Work Orientation Week, smoothly transitioning into roles as mentors, panelists, and co-facilitators. This task was second nature to them, as UHNBC Social Workers consistently offer mentorship, preceptorship, and clinical skill-building to new staff and students who shadow them from across the Northern Health region.

Jack also took on a special project at Northern Health last year when he completed a survey of staff in social work and related disciplines to uncover their needs for education and support. He was the first to initiate an internal resource on the Microsoft Teams platform that allows Social Workers from across the region to access resources, mentorships, and immediate clinical guidance. The project then made way for a newly proposed regional orientation model which greatly reduces inequities across the region for staff onboarding and increases the level of consistency in high-quality patient care.

Through all of Jack’s work over the last few years, and especially thanks to advocacy from the UHNBC Social Work team, Northern Health has now identified the need for supporting the Social Work discipline ongoingly. As the landscape of the North is so nuanced and complex, so are the evolving education and orientation needs for staff who operate in this area. To support this, a new Professional Practice Lead position is just one of many regional supports coming soon to Northern Health. It will be exciting to see where we go from here!

"I'm not a social worker, so coming in to support this team has been an eye-opener for me,” says Courtenay Kelliher, Manager of Clinical Operations for Allied Health and Emergency. “I hear from other staff that the social workers on the floor are an absolutely integral component of patient care and discharge planning. It's been really humbling to get to see that up front. There's good leadership across the team as we have expanded with new staff and students who are willing to step into new challenges. I'm looking forward to having more support for social work in the near future, as it makes a direct impact on patient care within an interdisciplinary care model."