Social Work TIG Week: Evaluation of Self Care by Tamarah Moss

Hello, my name is Tamarah Moss, PhD, MPH, MSW I am the program co-chair for AEA Social Work TIG and an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College. As a social work educator and a health and mental health services delivery researcher, I often think about self-care, and what that might look like on the individual and collective basis, as well as how it can be evaluated at these levels in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.

I think of self-care as the practice of taking action to pause from every-day life and demands, to prioritize soothing mind, body and spirit. As a practice of rejuvenation and restoration. The University of Buffalo School of Social Work’s definition is helpful and reflects my understanding of self-care. Self-care means to “reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being. Self-care is necessary for your effectiveness and success in honoring your professional and personal commitments.”

Personal and professional balance through self-care makes me a better evaluator, hence the importance of self-care. In the social work profession, there are discussions about the importance of self-care from multiple perspectives, including communities being served and cared for, as well as those providing the care and services. This is critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and health care settings and systems where there is an arguable shift due to capacity challenges and other strains on the where providers are integrating ways of, potentially, more client/patient community self-care.

The following Rad Resources are available for evaluators broadly and social work evaluators more specifically. Evaluators working with and on behalf of communities may face stressors vicariously. An evaluator’s practice of self-care is essential to avoid transference of biases that would present barriers to culturally responsive evaluation.

Rad Resources

For the Client Community Utilizing a Digital Self Care in health care settings: As defined by the Health Data Collaborative Digital Health and Interoperability Work Group, digital health is the systematic application of information and communications technologies, computer science, and data to support informed decision-making by individuals, the health workforce, and health systems, to strengthen resilience to disease and improve health and wellness for all. Digital self-care is the intersection of digital health and self-care. For ways  to design, implement and evaluate digital self-care from an international perspective.

Evaluating Personalized Care for Patient and Client Communities: The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) based in the United Kingdom, offers free resources to support the evaluation of personalized care. Personalized care is based on clients and community having choice and control over the way their care is planned and delivered. It is based on ‘what matters’ to them and their individual strengths and needs.

While the two resources above are focused on the community, this final Rad Resources is focused on social work practitioners.

For the Social Work practitioner: University of Buffalo has curated a list of measures and scales for practitioners to assess their own level of self-care. Engaging an evaluator to take this to scale for a team or department in various settings may be useful, and be part of the beginning of developing self-care plans  


The American Evaluation Association is hosting SW TIG Week with our colleagues in the Social Work Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our SW TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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