From nurses to doctors, many professionals make up the healthcare sector. These unsung heroes serve patients with complete dedication to help them live healthy lives.
Whether it is the nurses, doctors, surgeons, or pharmacists, every professional has a significant contribution to the healthcare sector. However, the role of social workers is also worth discussing. Social workers address the psychological and emotional needs of patients by working with their families.
The responsibilities of social workers in the healthcare industry can vary according to the situations and needs of clients. From grief counseling to meal planning, they must perform different duties to provide patient support.
According to research, it is expected that the job growth of healthcare social workers will increase by 17% by the end of 2028. It shows the significance and demand for social workers in the healthcare industry.
Without further delay, let’s find out how social workers help with healthcare.
Analyzing Psychological Needs of Patients
Social workers with psychiatric expertise assess the psychological and emotional needs of patients. They engage in discussions with patients, family members, and doctors to understand the patient’s history. Social workers may also try to determine the physical and financial needs of patients and their families. They need to thoroughly understand all the issues that could contribute to poor mental health.
A thorough assessment allows psychiatric social workers to figure out the root cause of the issues to take measures accordingly. They specifically focus on patients with mental health issues. They try to establish a solid emotional connection with patients to understand what is bothering them.
After an initial assessment, social workers develop a personalized plan according to the patient’s emotional and mental health needs. In such situations, social workers may have to take the advice of other healthcare professionals to recommend effective healthcare solutions such as mental therapy or counseling.
Assisting Patients and Their Family
Family members have different concerns during the treatment of their loved ones. They usually come up with questions about when a patient will be discharged. Or why is there a change in the treatment plan?
To address these concerns, social workers provide necessary assistance to the patient’s family members in healthcare settings. They also answer the queries of patients and clear their confusion regarding the treatment, playing their part in patient education.
It has been proved that patient education can play a crucial role in producing better health outcomes. Therefore, the role of social workers in the healthcare landscape becomes more critical. According to a research study, cancer patients can better cope with their pain if they are aware of their treatments and condition.
Social workers ensure that their clients are well informed about current treatment methods and alternative plans. It keeps families, patients, doctors, and all relevant staff members of the ongoing treatment on the same page. Hence, social workers ensure that nothing goes off track during the entire medical treatment.
Helping Patients in Financial Planning
Expensive medical treatments can increase the financial burden on families. As mentioned earlier, apart from the patient’s health concerns, the additional stress of managing expenses can trigger poor mental health in families.
In such situations, the role of social workers becomes crucial. They can refer patients to financial assistance plans and community resources. It allows patients to receive financial compensation. Once the treatment is completed, social workers help patients find decent jobs to have financial stability.
Creating a Discharge Plan
Social workers in the healthcare facilities need to develop a discharge plan and provide it to families before leaving the hospital. It includes in-home care suggestions, recovery strategies, and coordination with rehabilitation services.
Social workers mainly focus on the life of patients after treatment and create a discharge plan accordingly. They assess patients' medical history and collaborate with doctors to make recommendations accordingly.
Patients often face issues coping with the treatments they have to undergo. In such situations, social workers provide individual and group counseling to patients to help them manage the side effects and pain of the ongoing treatment. Social workers also lead support groups organized to facilitate patients’ recovery.
For example, social workers organize group counseling for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. It helps provide valuable insights to patients by keeping in mind their emotional needs and mental state. These meaningful counseling sessions positively impact the recovery of patients.
Dealing with Paperwork of Patients
Social workers working in healthcare institutes have to examine and monitor the patient’s progress throughout the treatment process. It gives a clear idea to the healthcare experts that things are going according to the plan.
If no improvement is observed in the patient's condition, social workers must make reports accordingly. Also, they have to handle different documents related to treatment and discharge.
Serving as a Patients Advocate
Social workers in the healthcare industry work as advocates of patients’ rights. While working with doctors and other medical staff, they ensure that patients are treated appropriately and respectfully during the treatment.
As a healthcare social worker, one must also inform doctors about any obstacles patients may face while following medical suggestions.
On the other hand, when social workers work on child abuse cases, they have to coordinate with medical staff members for investigation. It allows them to take the authorized action when it becomes necessary.
Social workers are supposed to protect different rights of patients. It includes their right to respect, information about treatment, confidentiality, and others. Also, you need to ensure that patients receive copies of their medical records.
Another fundamental right of patients that social workers protect is their right to have a second opinion. For example, if patients are not satisfied with the ongoing treatment and behavior of medical staff, they can look for another treatment option. Hence, social workers are responsible for ensuring justice for patients in healthcare settings and protecting their rights.
The role of social workers holds special significance in the healthcare sector. Despite the efforts of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare staff, social workers analyze the mental state of patients. They provide valuable insights to doctors after assessing patients' emotional and psychological needs that positively impact their recovery.
Hopefully, this article might have helped you understand the role of social workers in the healthcare sector.