In 1895, the first hospital almoner, Mary Stewart, was appointed at the Royal Free Hospital in London, under the auspices of the Charity Organisation Society; the almoner's job was initially to assess patients' ability to pay for medical care refer those in need to the poor law authorities, and encourage people to join friendly and saving societies, thus making the administration of charitable-giving more efficient and systematic. Further appointments, all of women, were made at other London hospitals over the next ten years. Two organisations grew up to support this emerging profession, its recruitment, training and registration: the Hospital Almoners’ Association in 1903 and the Institute of Hospital Almoners in 1907. In 1945, the organisations merged to form the Institute of Almoners.
In later years, the almoner's role widened "to include a concern with the patient’s total social welfare and with establishing links between the patient, the hospital and the community." These developments were reflected in 1964 by the name change to the Institute of Medical Social Workers, later merging with other associations in 1970 to form the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).
Source: Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick.