Use Your Medical Social Worker
When dealing with cancer you will need several professionals on your cancer treatment team. One role is your medical social worker; an important resource when you need additional support and do not know where to look.
A social worker specializing in the medical community is there to help you find resources that can help in your daily life. One common example would be to help find an outpatient center, which may help reduce the amount of time you spend in the hospital or even save you on the length of travel.
Other Services Social Workers Can Provide
- Psychotherapy is one area a medical social worker can help. Dealing with cancer is emotionally trying not just for you but also for everyone in your family. Depression and stress often go hand in hand with it. Finding a good counselor can help you to maintain a positive attitude and keep hope. It can also help your family cope and help to support you.
- Medical social workers often work with speech, physical and recreational therapy professionals. There are numerous effects that cancer treatments, surgery and the cancer itself can cause. In some cases, working with an occupational therapist, physical therapist or speech therapist can help to improve the quality of life and maintain strength and health. A medical social worker is someone who works to connect individuals in need with these types of resources.
- They are also helpful in discharge support. For example, you may require home health care assistance during your recovery. A medical social worker can help to provide you with agencies that cover this type of assistance.
- Social workers can also work as patient advocates as they are often in the position of intermediary between patients and staff. They are also often in charge of determining the overall discharge condition of the patient. For example, if a patient is ready for discharge with home health care assistance but the patient is not able to completely manage the direction of an assistant, the social worker may recommend another option such as a long-term acute care or nursing facility after a discharge until the patient is better able.
Medical social workers also have access to community social programs. Cancer can be financially devastating to a family. It can mean time away from work or if you are self employed it could put your entire business in jeopardy. There are social programs that can help with expenses such as food, electricity and even rent if you know where to look. If you have never needed these services before it can be daunting and many of them are not openly advertised. They [the social workers] can provide you with information, paperwork and in some cases even help you to apply for these services… allowing you to focus exclusively on treatment and recovery . Limiting stress associated with finances and bills can go a long way to helping in your recovery. Make sure to ask your Medical social worker for help.
Medical social workers can also arrange for onsite grief counselors. Cancer treatment is an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes its good to have someone with whom the patient and/or family can talk.
Where to Find a Medical Social Worker
Medical social workers can be found in most hospitals, treatment centers, even facilities designed for outpatient care. The best place, however, to look for one is going to be your hospital. Just about every hospital has one, and they are usually familiar with other social workers in the area who might be working at nursing facilities or treatment centers that you may be considering.
Your Community Network
Having a support group is critical for anyone battling cancer. This involves bringing in new resources that you might not be familiar with and reaching into your community. There are numerous organizations that help individuals who are in need of assistance on a temporary or permanent basis. This includes advocates, support groups, medical social workers, non-profit and for profit organizations. One of the best things that you can do for yourself and your family is to reach out and build a solid network of support. It will help to alleviate stress, worry, and allow you to focus on your treatment and recovery.