Many people don't realize they can speak with the social worker in the hospital to get guidance about what to do when the patient is discharged.
Social work in hospitals often involves in speaking with the patient, family and assisting the patient in preparation for discharge from the hospital. Often this will entail setting up home care for the patient so that they are able to recover in more familiar settings while still having someone available to ensure that their care is not diminished.
They may work with the doctors and or health care professionals to see what care is required when they are discharged and make arrangements for this care to be provided at home. This care can also include monitoring that medications are being taken, help with showers or light housekeeping and aid with simple chores that the patient may not be up to completing until the recovery is complete. The amount of care that needs to be given, the time at which they need to be given and the type of care is all discussed with the social worker in consultation with the patient and family.
The social worker will also assess the patient personally to ensure that the patient is assigned needed care and this need to be approved by the doctors as well.
Many of the simple tasks involved in patient care in the hospitals are taken on by the social worker. This includes discussions about problems between patients or between staff and patients.
Medical social workers may also assess the psychosocial aspect of a patient and their family and help them receive assistance from agencies and other resources to develop a social network to help them deal with different situations. If the patient had a history of substance abuse for example, the social worker can assist in finding them a support network such as a 12 step program, to be sure that the patient and family can have a healthy recovery and not fall back into their old routines of abuse.
In the cases of elderly, it may be that the person is not in need of 24 hour care but does need daily assistance, a Health Care Social Worker can assist the person for 1 or 2 hours a day, make sure meals are ready, that they are clean and any medications are being taken. Also, sometimes a person that is hospitalized needs to go to a nursing home and may have made no prior arrangements. This can be very overwhelming for the family to deal with. The social worker can help explain options and research insurance coverage that is available.