If you have a child with a chronic illness or medically complex condition, you may find that your child’s care goes well beyond the usual visits to the doctors office. And if you live in rural Wyoming and have specialty care needs, that means you get to travel for that care. So when it’s all said and done, your kiddo with those extra medical needs and care will have a larger team on his or her side. That can be a little overwhelming, so I’d like to take this chance to share some good news about one person who will likely be a part of your child’s care team. In honor of National Social Workers month this March, social workers are our spotlight team members!
The Social Worker
The clinical social worker employed by a hospital can be such an important piece of your care. Sometimes we may have this idea that a social worker is scary and only shows up when our kids are taken away for some sort of neglect or abuse, but actually they are there to really care for you and your child! Let me share some of the great ways these folks can help you take the next steps in your child’s medical journey.
As a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), these are professional counselors, trained in various ways to help you and your child process through a particular struggle in life. That could be the news of a diagnosis, grief from loss, trauma from an accident and more. They can help you, individually and as a family begin the process of understanding what you have experienced and share how you can overcome it. They can help answer questions about a treatment process or what can be expected with a certain diagnosis in a language that you and your child can understand, especially those who work in pediatric-specific areas. This is such an awesome and important opportunity for your family to strengthen your hearts and minds as you move forward with whatever the future holds.
2) Insurance Gurus
Whether it was an accident, a premature birth, or a chronic illness that has been in the cards for a while now, as adults we always want our children to have the best care - and be able to afford it. That “and” can be a pretty big hurdle to overcome. Social workers are well versed with insurance company’s policies and they can help you work through how that “and” can be a possibility. They can also help find other support that you need from organizations that have funds to cover specific things. It’s not easy to ask for help, especially financially. And if we want to help care for our children today, we need to take steps to make sure that we can also take care of them tomorrow. Social workers are great at helping you see the path to do that.
3) Going Home
Social workers are a big part of the process to get your family home in a way that will help you succeed. If there are barriers in care or equipment, they can help make sure you have what you need to keep your child on the right track. That can be anything from oxygen to walkers! They can also help to make sure your child’s follow up care is mapped out. They can also help you get connected to other resources at home.
We are grateful for the whole team that cares for our Wyoming children! In the Patient Advocacy Program, I get to work alongside social workers and those within their team to be able to help connect families to some of those local resources and support services that they need. I like being able to encourage our families to reach out to their social worker when their child has an appointment with their specialist when I know of needs they can support.
Yes, part of the social workers job is to ensure that our children are safe. And a big part of how they ensure that is happening is by caring for us - parents - while we take care of them! Be sure to take advantage of this important person on your care team, as you walk with your child through their medical journey! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask - you can reach me at (307) 333-1273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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