Last update : november 2016
 


Oncology social workers help people with cancer and their loved ones better adapt to the changes brought on by the disease and its psychosocial impact. For example, they might:

  • Help people adjust psychologically to their condition
  • Help them find financial support
  • Tell them about existing social programs and facilitate their access to them
  • Help them organize transportation 

Here’s when it’s useful to reach out to a social worker

  • When you’re having trouble adjusting to your illness or treatment
  • When the feeling of sadness and despair persists
  • When family problems are affecting your ability to cope with your situation, illness or treatment
  • When financial, emotional, personal or practical problems come upWhen you feel alone, isolated or rejected by your family


How can a social worker help me?

Here are a few ways a social worker can help:
  • Counselling and individual or couple’s therapy
  • Dealing with families and groups
  • Advocating for patients’ rights
  • Support filling out forms and documents to apply for services
  • Prevention and education related to health and wellness
  • Hospital discharge planningIdentification of available resources and liaison with community partners


Who can ask to meet a social worker?

  • People with cancer can ask to meet the social worker.
  • A loved one of a person with cancer can ask to meet a social worker for him or herself.
  • A member of the interdisciplinary healthcare team – often a pivot nurse – can refer a patient to a social worker.
  • In certain cases (e.g. for specific types of cancer), the person will automatically be referred to a social worker.


Where do the appointments take place?

  • At the hospital
  • At the CLSC
  • In some community organizations


How can I prepare for my appointment with the social worker?

  • Write down your questions.
  • Note all the things you’ve done so far and tell the social worker about them.


Examples of questions

  • What resources are available to me?
  • Where can I get financial aid?
  • How do I talk to my loved ones about the illness? How do I tell a child?
  • If I’m not able to return to work, what are my options once my employment/disability insurance has run out?
  • Where can I get help with home care/housework/transportation/meals?
  • Can you help me get support from my loved ones/my community?
  • Can you help me manage conflicts at home/at work?
  • Can you help me find temporary housing/a convalescent home/affordable lodging for me and the person accompanying me? 
  • Can you help me and my loved ones better manage the anxiety and emotional distress associated with cancer?
  • What are my rights: how can I consult my patient file/get a second opinion/have my decision respected/get follow-up if I decide to refuse or cease treatments?

To learn more

For more information about the role of social worker or for help getting ready for your appointment, call the Info-Cancer Hotline (1 800 363-0063) to speak with a nurse or documentalist.


Sources :
McGill University Health Center. Social Workers play vital role in helping patients get back on their feet. https://muhc.ca/patients/article/social-workers-play-vital-role-helping-patients-get-back-their-feet. Accessed December 5, 2016.
 
Vitalité Health Network, New Brunswick. Social Work. http://www.vitalitenb.ca/en/service-points/hospitals/edmundston-regional-hospital/hospital-based-social-workers. Accessed December 5, 2016

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