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CancerLynx - we prowl the net
October 9, 2000

Medical Social Workers
Carol E Harris, AS, BA, MSW

Medical Social Workers are graduates of schools of social work with a master's degree, and who use their knowledge and skills to provide social services for clients/patients (who may be individuals, families, groups, communities, organizations, or the society in general). Social workers help people increase their capacities for problem solving and coping, and they help them obtain needed resources, facilitate interactions between individuals and between people and their environments.

The social worker practice includes rehabilitating those who social functioning has been impaired. i.e. Cancer patients often may feel isolated and lonely because their family and friends may stay away and even stop telephoning because they can't deal with their cancer. The social worker can help reduce the feelings of isolation through support groups, and helping clients/patients to know other people who are facing the same things they are.

The activities of social workers are helping people become more self-sufficient; preventing dependency; strengthening family relationships; and restoring individuals, families, and groups to successful social functioning. Social services include helping people obtain adequate financial resources for their needs, evaluating the capabilities of people to care for themselves, for children, or other dependents, counseling and psychotherapy, referral and channeling, mediation, advocating for social causes, informing organizations of their obligations to individuals, facilitating health care provisions, and linking clients/patients to resources.

Medical Social Workers provide social group work, in which small numbers of people who share similar interests or common problems convene regularly and engage in activities designed to achieve certain objectives. In contrast to group psychotherapy, the goals of group work are not necessarily the treatment of emotional problems. The objectives include exchanging information, facilitating support for clients/patients, helping them deal with their problems and education to improve the quality of life.

The following services are provided by Medical Social Workers:

Supportive Counseling for Patients/Families/Partners
- Life Altering Diagnosis
- Grief Counseling
- Chemical Dependency Counseling and Resources

Psychosocial Assessment for Planning and Team Consult
- Mental Status Examination
- Collaboration with MD's; Geriatric/Oncology/Nephrology Specialists, case managers, and other team members

Long and Short Term Care Planning
- Assessment of Home and Support System
- Anticipation of Future Care and Support Needs
- Board and Care/SNF/ Residential Community Consult
- Residential and Home Hospice Options
- Home Health Options

Elder/Spousal/Child/Dependent Abuse
- Legal Reporting
- Counseling
- Safety, housing and support planning

Complex Financial/Benefit Counseling and Assistance
- Short and Long term disability (Private, State and Federally Funded)
- Medi-cal
- Medicare
- Paratransit
- Pharmaceutical-Funding Assistance Program
- Alternate Funding Sources (ie:Ryan White Funded)

Kaiser Benefits, Coverage and Special Programs Counseling
- Medical Financial Assistance
- Senior Advantage
- Personal Advantage

Legal Issues
- Durable and Legal Power of Attorney
- Conservatorship (Civil and Psych.)
- Public Guardianship
- Legal Referral (Private and Community Based)
- Immigration issues

For more information you can contact your local Department of Human Services, or call the Medical Social Worker at your Health Care Facility.

Carol E. Harris, MSW
Medical Social Worker
Kaiser Permanente Medical Office Building
2238 Geary Blvd 8th floor
San Francisco, CA. 94115
(415) 833-3289

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