The role of the oncology social worker is to help patients, families and their caregivers deal with the reality of cancer. They are specially trained and skilled to assist with the psychological, social, emotional and spiritual needs of everyone involved.
Ten ways oncology social workers improve cancer therapy
Oncology social workers play an important role in cancer care. Here are ten things they do to help cancer patients and their families receive care that is safe, efficient, effective, timely and—above all—patient-centered:
- Your Guide
The Regional Cancer Care (RCCA) oncology social workers provide assistance in coping with the diagnosis to patients and families all along the disease continuum. They can also teach relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, lead psycho-educational support groups and help individuals transition to survivorship. Strong coping skills are necessary for any issues we face in life and learning new ones are a valuable asset. Survivorship starts as early as initial diagnosis as it is planning for not only how you will get through the treatments but how you will live post-treatment and thereafter. Once you are diagnosed you always have to be mindful of that, even upon remission.
- Your Specialist
The RCCA oncology social workers have expertise and specialized clinical training in the meaning and impact of a cancer diagnosis on patients and their families.
- Your Assistant
Our Regional Cancer Care (RCCA) oncology social workers are a friendly, compassionate resource that will evaluate whether you need financial assistance, support with insurance, or emotional, physical or spiritual support. Then, they will help you navigate and connect you to the right people and places.
- Your Advocate
Oncology social workers work tirelessly to resolve any issues that may interfere with getting the care you need. They will advocate for your health care and help you understand and complete advanced health care directives, a living will and durable power of attorney.
- Your Translator
Oncology social workers have a working knowledge of cancer treatments, their side effects and the psychological impact on both the patient and their family. They are there to help you understand what to expect and distill any complex information into easy-to-understand language.
- Your Support System
Oncology social workers can refer you to highly recommended support groups, especially if you lack a strong personal support system. They can also provide supportive counseling or refer you to a licensed therapist to receive specialized support for depression or marital issues.
- Your Family’s Support System
The RCCA oncology social workers are also here to support your friends and family.They can also help guide you through talking to small children about cancer and cancer treatment.
- Your Medical Team’s Support System
Oncology social workers also take on the role of supporting colleagues, particularly around burnout and compassion fatigue to help them manage the stressors and loss associated with working in oncology—so they can continue to provide you with excellent care.
- Your Financial Advisor
Oncology social workers are familiar with Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance coverage and can help you navigate your financial concerns so you can focus on your treatment.
- Your Partner
Due to advances in treatment options and screening techniques, more people are living with cancer as a chronic illness. It is the role of oncology social workers to help you cope with the uncertainty of recurrence and living with periodic treatments.
The oncology social workers at Regional Cancer Care Associates are highly skilled and specialized in helping people through their difficult journey with cancer. They are there to answer your questions, educate, and support you every step of the way.