From the Desk Of… The Social Work Team

2019 – APRIL:
From the Desk of…
The CCS Social Work Team

A day in the life of a social worker at Cancer Care Services is filled with many different roles and responsibilities. No two days are exactly alike, but each day we are focused on providing care and support to the people we are here to serve. While our team of clinic-based social workers operate within the parameters of a specific, off-site clinic setting, the social workers in our building on N. Henderson Street serve a broad spectrum of individuals from our community who have been affected by cancer.

Our community social workers typically spend the first few moments in the building preparing for the day. Everyone has their own process, but in addition to tending to basic administrative chores, this time is meant to put the social worker in a healthy state of mind to connect with clients.  Sometimes social workers even jam out to action movie soundtracks, but those are a rare breed.

Prep time serves another practical purpose: we don’t begin reaching out to clients until after 9:00 AM, in order to give patients sufficient time to wake and prepare for whatever their day may hold. These calls continue conversations about previously identified needs or concerns; we want clients to feel they are kept current, and not like they are having to wait on responses to questions. After every call completed on behalf of the patient, the social worker documents the exchange with a note to the client’s file. Detailed documentation is an essential element of professional social work.

Typically, the social worker will then move on to Intake phone calls. This is the first step in bringing a client on-board to receive services from our agency. Many routine questions are asked in order to assess the client’s physical, mental, and even financial condition and begin to formulate a care plan for them. Not surprisingly, many notes are added to the file. Altogether, this process takes roughly an hour – for each new client.

Once Intake is completed, then the social worker schedules a time to meet the new client in person, preferably, to discuss in more detail the needs of the client as well as those of his or her entire household. At Cancer Care Services, the cancer patient is not the social worker’s only type of client. The husband, wife, child, parent, and any caregiver – all can be clients of the social worker. The social worker will spend time throughout their day researching and attempting to connect these people with the resources they need – whether it’s financial help, counseling, food assistance, proper treatment, prescription medications, housing, car repairs, social connections, medical supplies, nutrition supplements, burial assistance, and sometimes even mattresses. Basically, anything that is a concern or need of the cancer patient’s household becomes a priority of the social worker.

The social worker will also spend time throughout the day receiving phone calls from dietitians, nurses, and other medical staff. These medical professionals are close with their cancer patients and are a key link in the chain of caring for and providing assistance to our clients. Each one of these professionals works within the guidelines of the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), which keeps patient information confidential. Social workers are constantly sending and receiving order forms to provide medical assistance for the patient in these cases. For instance, if a patient needs colostomy supplies, then a nurse will send over an order form and the social worker then searches online for the specific supplies and presents his/her selections to a supervisor for approval.

The (national) recommended caseload for a social worker is 85-100 clients. The members of the social work team at Cancer Care Services typically carry caseloads a good bit heavier, with many clients receiving the full range of services offered, each of which the social worker coordinates. The social workers at Cancer Care Services accept any cancer patient no matter what phase of treatment – or survivorship – they are in. We know any help that can be provided goes a long way for our patients and we are proud to play a vital part in that process.