How We Can Help
Our services include but are not limited to the following:
Advanced Care Planning and Decision Making
We can help you during the treatment decision-making process by facilitating communication with the doctor, making sure patients understand their options, arranging and facilitating family meetings, and advocating for patients based on the decisions they make.
Social workers are trained to advocate for a patient’s social, emotional and practical well-being. We can do this by helping you communicate with your medical providers and linking you with resources that may be helpful to you. Roswell Park also has a Patient Advocate Department with trained staff who can assist you if you have concerns about your care.
Cancer and cancer treatment can be physically demanding. Completing daily tasks may be harder due to fatigue or other treatment side effects. It is not uncommon for patients to need additional assistance, either at home or in a facility, during their treatment and their recovery period.
Caring for a loved one can be hard. Caregivers are often pulled in many different directions and may have to take on new roles and responsibilities. Social workers are available to provide emotional support to caregivers through support groups or individual counseling. We can help guide you through difficult moments in your loved one’s treatment and link you with resources to provide practical assistance to you and your loved one.
There are many organizations in the community that offer support and assistance to patients with cancer or serious illness. Social workers can help you sort through this information and connect you with resources that best meet your needs.
Communication with Family & the Medical Team
Good communication with your medical providers is important to ensure that you understand your condition, treatment options, and your plan of care. It is natural to feel overwhelmed when talking to your doctor. Preparing questions ahead of time and having a friend or family member with you when you meet with your medical team can be helpful. Writing down what you discussed or asking for written information from the doctor can also be useful to refer to later. Social workers can facilitate meetings with you, your family and your medical providers to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the situation.
Coping and Emotional Support
Many people seek support and counseling after receiving their cancer diagnosis. No one is ever prepared to hear the words, “It’s Cancer.” In addition to adjusting to the shock of this news, it is normal to have questions and some anxiety about how it will impact your life. Unknowns about your ability to work or continue certain activities, side effects of treatment, your role within your family, your prognosis, or how to tell loved ones about your cancer can leave people feeling overwhelmed or scared.
Some patients may be unable to work while they are receiving treatment. It is important to talk to your doctor about how your treatment may affect you. Disability benefits can help make up for part of your lost income if you are unable to work through treatment. Disability benefits may be obtained through your employer, New York State or Social Security depending on your situation. Benefits can vary from employer to employer, so it is important to talk to your employer about what may be available to you. Social workers at Roswell Park can help guide you through your options and how to apply for benefits. Staff in the Roswell Park Disability office on the ground floor of the main hospital are also available to assist you with questions you may have.
Financial Assistance Resources
Undergoing cancer treatment can have a financial impact on patients and families. Inability to work may affect your income while medical treatments may add to your expenses. We can help patients who are residents of New York State who may have difficulty paying for services and treatments at Roswell Park. Talk to one of our financial counselors about how to apply for assistance within Roswell Park. Social workers may also be able to connect you with financial assistance programs in the community to assist with basic needs and other expenses related to your treatment.
Palliative Care is a medical specialty devoted to caring for individuals with progressive illness. The goal is to maintain an optimal quality of life for patients and caregivers. Our Palliative Care Team at Roswell Park can partner with your treatment team to provide symptoms management. Roswell Park social workers can also provide referrals for palliative care services at home. If treatment is no longer an option, social workers can provide information and referral to hospice resources.
The Department of Social Work oversees the provision of interpreter services for non-English speaking patients in compliance with NYS law. This is done through the use of telephonic interpreters, in-person interpreters, and sign language interpreters. The method of interpretation is dependent on the language needed, the availability of interpreters, and the patient’s needs. Interpreter services are provided at no cost to you. Use of family members or any of our diverse staff for interpretation is strongly discouraged as we utilize certified medical interpreters. Please notify your doctor or the registration desk if interpreter services are needed.
Your social worker can refer you to a legal services program that may be available at little to no cost to you. Legal service includes creating a will, Power of Attorney, and other legal needs.
Social Work referrals, consultations, support group information, as well as other resource information may be initiated by any member of the health care team or by contacting the Social Work Department directly at 716-845-8022.
The Angel Fund
There are times when patients and their families experience extraordinary financial challenges when diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment. Such challenges may include medication costs, childcare expenses, catastrophic events, or durable medical equipment needs. The lack of financial resources to meet these challenges may prevent or inhibit patients from receiving the treatment they require.
Thanks to a generous donor, Roswell Park has some funds available to assist with these expenses. The Social Work Department administers the fund according to legal and regulatory requirements. The patient will be assessed by a social worker who will determine financial need and work with the patient to identify available resources including the Angel Fund.