Cancer Center patients' ages range from young adult to elderly. The patients are from a wide range of socioeconomic groups, however many patients have very limited financial resources and limited social support. Cancer patients often have numerous medical co-morbidities that complicate their medical and psychosocial treatment plans as well as their compliance.
The University of Maryland Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center social workers provide clinical services across the continuum of care. For a patient with an initial diagnosis of cancer, meeting with a social worker can provide emotional support, help with decision making, someone to listen to their feelings of anger, fear or sadness, as well as concrete suggestions to help them achieve a sense of control in their lives. For patients with advanced disease, social workers can provide help with decision making around life/death issues, someone to listen to what they are going through, and support and comfort for both patients and family members. Clinical social work interventions include:
Treatment strategies include individual and family counseling, psychosocial consultation, patient and family education, community resource referrals and coordination of care. The Cancer Center social workers attend daily inpatient multidisciplinary rounds and weekly team meetings. Social workers work closely with patients and families to help identify their strengths and to cope more effectively with their illness. For patients who are in advanced stages of cancer, social workers help with decisions about palliative care. Psychosocial evaluations are provided for every patient who is considered for the bone marrow transplant program in order to determine suitability for the program.
Although many cancer patients must cope with multiple environmental barriers in addition to their illness / medical complications, the benefits of social work intervention can result in improved patient /family adjustment to illness, improved compliance with treatment, and an increased understanding of illness and treatment regimen.
The Greenebaum Cancer Center social work services are evaluated on a regular basis through performance measures, customer satisfaction surveys and outcome measures. Indicators used to measure if patient and family needs are met include documentation monitors, patient and staff satisfaction surveys, patient volume and complexity and clinical practice outcomes. Quality of service is evaluated based on established indicator thresholds.
All transplant social workers are licensed by the state of Maryland and have obtained a master's degree from an accredited school of social work. Orientation to the hospital, DSW, Greenebaum Cancer Center and service area is provided for all new employees. Ongoing professional training and development to provide appropriate clinical intervention for patients and meet licensure requirements for CEU's is completed by all transplant social workers. Training is provided by the DSW, professional community and hospital in-services.