Social Work Department - FAQs

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Social Work Department - FAQs

How can a Medical Social Worker help me?

A cancer diagnosis can result in major life adjustments for both you and your family. In such circumstances, a Medical Social Worker can assist in identifying solutions to help you and your family deal with your diagnosis and any problems that may arise as a result. Your Medical Social Worker, if required, will work with you throughout the course of your treatment.

What does a Medical Social Worker do?

A Medical Social Worker provides counselling and emotional support to you and/or your family. If you are an inpatient, he/she can also help with planning your discharge from hospital and setting up support services in the community. He/she can also advocate and mediate on your behalf with a variety of agencies and organisations and can provide you with information on social welfare issues, medical cards and community supports.

How do I contact a Medical Social Worker?

You can do so by asking your nurse, radiotherapist or doctor or by calling in person to the social work office. You can also phone.

I am finding it very difficult to cope with my diagnosis, how can a Medical Social Worker help me?

Being diagnosed with cancer can be a very traumatic experience for you and your family/children and you may experience a variety of emotions, such as shock, denial, sadness, fear and uncertainty. The Medical Social Worker is available to help you and your family explore these feelings, which in turn may help you to cope better with your illness and associated problems and where possible, to identify solutions. Once you have finished treatment the Medical Social Worker can also help link you into local services for ongoing support if you so wish.

Should I tell my children that I am ill?

This very much depends on how you feel about providing such information to your child/children, whether you are ready to do so and the age of your child/children. However, most research would suggest that the benefits of being open with your children outweigh those of withholding information.

How much information should I give my children?

Again, this will depend very much on the age and stage of development of your child/children. For example the information you give to a preschool child is going to be very different from that which you give to a teenager.

If I don’t feel able to discuss my illness with my children, can somebody do this for me?

Yes. If you are unable to discuss your illness, then you may wish to consider getting a close relative or a Medical Social Worker to help. The Medical Social Worker can also provide you with information on how to talk to your children about your illness.

If I am not well enough to return home once my treatment is finished, where can I go?

You may have the option of convalescence in a nursing home or convalescence unit. If you have a medical card, you may be able to avail of convalescence free of charge if it is in a public facility. If it is in a private facility and you have health insurance, it will cover a certain percentage of the cost. If you do not have a medical card or health insurance you will have to meet the costs yourself. If this is a problem you should talk to the Medical Social Worker.

My home is not appropriately equipped to meet my needs, how can this be addressed?

In such circumstances you should contact the medical social worker in the hospital/centre who will put you in touch with and occupational therapist who specialises in this area.

I wish to return home but I live alone, how can I maintain my independence? Will I have to pay for home care?

If you have a medical card, you may be eligible for a home care package and if you have the means, you can also employ private carers to supplement this package.

I don’t have a medical card or health insurance but I cannot afford to pay for my treatment, what can I do?

If you do not have a medical card or health insurance you will be liable for inpatient/outpatient charges. However, there may be several options as to how to pay this charge. If you find yourself in such circumstances you should contact medical social worker immediately and he/she can help you to look at the various options open to you and to assist you where possible.

One of the members of my family has to leave their job to care for me, is there any financial assistance available to us?

Yes. He/ she is entitled by law to take a maximum 104 weeks unpaid leave to care for an ill relative with a guarantee of resuming employment thereafter. A person who is giving up employment to care for you can apply for either Carers Benefit or Carers Allowance from the Department of Social Protection.

I am the primary/sole earner in the family, is there financial support available to my family while I am ill?

Yes, your relative may be able to apply for one of the above allowances. However, there can be a delay in the Department of Social Protection in processing applications. In such circumstances, he/she will qualify for an interim payment called a supplementary welfare allowance from the community welfare service. The community welfare officer is based in your local health centre

I am self-employed, am I entitled to any financial support if I have to stop working?

In such circumstances, there can be difficulty getting financial support from the department of social protection. If you find yourself in this situation you should contact your medical social worker immediately, who will look at options  available to you and may be able to advocate on your behalf with the community welfare service to provide you with a payment.