A cancer or serious blood disorder diagnosis is a life-changing event, especially in the pediatric population. Understanding and identifying risks for psychosocial adjustment difficulties within families of children with cancer, considering changes across treatment and beyond, is very complex. How one perceives the events around a child’s cancer or serious blood disorder diagnosis may impact both short-term and long-term adaptation. Psychosocial interventions and support is well documented in the literature as having an affect on outcomes.
Our social workers play a vital, valuable and unique role in assessing and implementing interventions that assist patients and their families to cope during the diagnostic and treatment period and, often, beyond the treatment period. Both are licensed, clinical social workers. They offer their services both on an in-patient and out-patient basis affording the patient/family to have a consistent presence to guide them through their ordeal.
Our social workers provide a vital part of our multidisciplinary team. They provide counseling – individual and family, education, information services and referrals to community resources to the patients/families that they serve.
When a child is hospitalized, our social workers collaborate with the Child-Life and Creative Arts Therapy Program to provide well-rounded care designed to ease the burdens and increase coping ability as the patients and their families traverse the arduous road they travel.
Assessment is ongoing to address the various needs of the patient and family. Active, empathetic listening along with information sharing and appropriate problem-solving skills on the part of the social worker helps alleviate stress because the patient experiences loss of control, fear of the hospital environment, relapses, fear of dying, body image, low self esteem and issues related to reintegration into real-world situations. Engaging patients and families in this practice is part of the healing process.
Empowering those diagnosed during the difficult times they face encourages the resilient spirit of those served. To that end, our social workers assist patients/families improve their quality of life, cope with their fears and enable them to feel supported. Our social workers have knowledge and expertise in the social service system, employing their skills to provide information on matters related to insurance and referrals to agencies/programs that can provide financial assistance. Psychological services are assessed and addressed to assure the patient’s overall well-being.
Education is key to helping young people keep a sense of normalcy. Our social workers make appropriate referrals for patients to continue their studies while in the hospital and/or home.
Pediatric Oncology Integrative Medicine Program:
Coping with a life-threatening or chronic illness has a powerful impact on both the patient and their family. Even extended family members and friends are affected. It is the goal of our healthcare staff to assist you through this difficult time.
Through a generous grant from the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, we are currently providing the following complimentary services to our inpatient patients and their families.
Massage Therapy, Reiki, and Guided Imagery
Massage Therapy is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for the purpose of normalizing those tissues. This therapy can reduce muscle tension and stiffness, relieve muscle spasms, increase flexibility and range of motion, relieve stress, improve blood circulation, increase feelings of well being and reduce anxiety.
Reiki is an ancient practice of healing that uses a hands-on approach to moving and aligning energy fields. The hands are placed in different areas of the body for a period of 3-4 minutes per hand placement, offering a deep sense of nurturing, peace and presence, as well as profound relaxation. Meditative music accompanies both healing interventions to complete the circle of care for both Massage and Reiki.
Guided Imagery is utilized to distract the patient/family member from feelings of fear, distress, and discomfort. Creating an atmosphere of total relaxation, the patient/family member is taught deep meditative breathing and relaxation techniques. Outcomes evidence overall feelings of well being that have positive clinical results.
Adolescents and young adults face challenges that are unique to their age group. Providing support and education are key elements of the role the social workers provide. The social workers provide information and resources that will prepare them for their journey through treatment and beyond. While their peers are preparing for college and joining the workforce, the newly diagnosed adolescent/young adult must cope with the losses of what they viewed as normal by providing counseling, offering hope and helping them create a “new normal”.
Issues facing this population are fertility, schooling, and peer relationships to name a few. Helping the patient be proactive in their health care is empowering and encourages the development of resilience to face the days ahead. Social workers assist the patient and their families to navigate through the resources available to them.
Research and Education Highlights:
Pediatric Resident Rotation in Pediatric Pain and Palliative Medicine
Intensive training through Center to Advance Palliative Care 2010 with ongoing support.
On-going evaluation and assessment inpatient and outpatient facilitating continuity of care
Individual and Family counseling inpatient and outpatient
Empower patients and their families to be proactive in their care regimen including pain and symptom management.
Anxiety, depression, psychosocial stresses related to diagnosis
School and educational issues
Referrals to community support services
Assistance with insurance and financial issues
Bereavement and grief issues
Ronald McDonald House
Massage Therapy, Reiki and guided imagery
Family Centered Care