What do social workers do?
Social Workers help patients and their families learn how to cope with kidney disease. They talk about emotional needs of renal patients and help them enhance their coping skills. A big part of the Social Worker’s job is educating patients and their families so they better understand kidney disease, dialysis and kidney transplant.
An important goal for Social Workers is to strengthen patient’s support system and to help patients adjust to the many changes they are experiencing. They find community resources for transportation, home health services, nutrition and more and assist patients with insurance and financial assistance resources.
Social Workers even help patients keep or get a job and to enjoy activities they’ve always enjoyed. When patients travel Social Workers help patients arrange for dialysis treatments in a visiting center. They also help patients understand their Rights, Responsibilities, Code of Conduct and Grievance Procedure within their dialysis center.
Social Workers help patients adjust to life on dialysis. When teaching patients about kidney disease and their treatment options (dialysis and kidney transplant) they help patients understand what is happening to their bodies and make informed decisions about their care. Assisting patients who are able to work provides a source of income and lets them maintain a more normal life. Finding health insurance to help pay for dialysis can help patients avoid financial hardship due to kidney disease. Lending an ear and encouraging patients to resume favorite activities can help them work out their feelings and show them that life can return to normal.
Social workers are part of an Interdisciplinary Team who work together to teach patients about the emotional aspects of dialysis. They also guide fellow team members on how best to interact with patients in a positive and professional way. By presenting a full picture of all the patient’s needs to the dialysis team, Social Workers help ensure the best decisions will be made regarding the patients overall health and wellbeing. Social Workers are also helpful in explaining the grief process that patients and team members may experience in the dialysis setting.
Social Workers are experts in finding financial resources whether continuing existing insurance or other sources like Medicare and individual state programs. They access organization like the American Kidney Foundation and other groups with resources for renal patients. If a patient has insurance coverage for their medical needs, but not for their prescription medications Social Workers help these patients get financial assistance with medications.
Many people rely on social workers for support in many areas of life. Those with kidney disease, their family members, caregivers and even other members of the dialysis care team turn to social workers for help in making life better. Your social worker is an advocate for you and is willing to help you. Feel free to talk to your social worker about any issues you may have regarding dialysis or other areas of your life.