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Social Workers Can Help You Cope With Illness

Mother with baby and social worker  

Your child may have a serious medical problem that does not have an easy solution. This can cause other problems for you and your family. You might have emotional, social, or money troubles as a result of your child's illness. You are not alone. Many families with a sick child have similar problems.

Social workers can help you.

What do social workers do?

Social workers help you cope with the non-medical problems caused by illness. They understand how a child's illness can affect the whole family and can make daily life hard.

Social workers help families with sick children whether the child is in the hospital or not.

A social worker is a trained professional. Your social worker is an important part of your child's health care team.

Social workers can help you and your family in many ways

Social workers can help you and your family in many ways. For example:

  • They can provide counselling. That is, they can listen to you, talk to you, and suggest ways to make things better.
  • They can provide counselling for children, teens, parents, couples, or families.
  • They can put you in touch with support groups, or other families who have similar problems.
  • They can show you where to find help in your community, such as financial help or home help.
  • They can speak up for you in the hospital and in the community. They can ask questions for you, and make sure doctors and other people know what you want and need.

There are many reasons to see a social worker

Different families need different things. There are many reasons you might want to talk to a social worker. Here are some of the things you might be worried and want to talk about:

  • How your child and family adjust to illness and treatment
  • If your child has problems at school or with other children because of the illness and treatment
  • How to cope with stress
  • Feelings of guilt, grief, or loss
  • Concerns about your other children
  • Concerns about being a good parent
  • Family conflict which makes it hard for you to cope
  • Financial (money) problems because your child is sick or in hospital
  • Concerns that you or your child may be at risk of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • If you feel you cannot talk to other members of the health care team
  • Support for your family after your child leaves hospital
  • Support for your child and family while your child is an outpatient

Remember, there is no shame in asking for help in a time of need.

Working on problems and solutions together

The social worker will talk to you about your situation and what you have trouble with. You will identify the problems you want to solve. The social worker will work with you to solve those problems. The social worker may continue to provide counselling and support after your child goes home.

Counselling is not a magical cure for life's difficulties. But social workers can help you find ways to cope.

How to contact a social worker

A member of your child's health care team might suggest that you talk to a social worker. Or you can ask for this service yourself. Speak with your child's doctor or nurse.

Key points

  • Many families struggle when their child is sick with a serious illness.
  • Social workers can help families cope with emotional, financial, and practical issues caused by illness or by long stays at the hospital.
  • You and a social worker can work together to reduce problems when in the hospital and at home.

Miriam Granger, MSW, RSW
Andrea D'Alimonte, RN
Annette Vigneux, NP