When a life-threatening or chronic illness affects your child, it also affects your entire family. A medical social worker can help you during this stressful time.
A St. Jude social worker can provide psychosocial support and counseling to help you, your child and your family cope with the impact of the diagnosis on everyday life.
Our social workers are trained and licensed to provide supportive interventions, including counseling. Our clinical staff have earned master’s degrees in social work and have obtained LCSW or LMSW licenses. Our two social work case managers have earned undergraduate degrees in social work and hold LBSW licenses.
How can a Social Worker help you and your family?
A St. Jude social worker can:
- Provide counseling and psychosocial support to help you, your child and your family adjust to diagnosis and treatment
- Offer education and counseling about the impact of illness on family relationships
- Teach coping strategies tailored to your family's needs
- Help you communicate needs or questions to the medical team
- Help you navigate the hospital setting
- Offer guidance and support as your child prepares to return home
- Provide transitional counseling upon completion of active treatment or when transitioning from pediatric to adult care
- Provide information about and referrals to local and nationwide community, financial and health care resources, including wish groups
If your child is going to receive treatment at St. Jude, a social worker will meet with you to complete a psychosocial history. This information about your child's background and your family's unique strengths and needs will help your medical and psychosocial team members as they plan and discuss treatment with you. You will also have an opportunity to talk with your social worker about the services that would be most beneficial to you and your family.
Social workers are available Monday through Friday during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). A social worker is also onsite Saturday and Sunday during regular business hours. After hours, a social worker is on call for urgent needs.
When should you talk to your social worker?
- When your child begins treatment or has a change in treatment. A social worker can help your child and family adjust to the disease and plan for the emotional impact of treatment. Your social worker will also help your child’s medical team understand any emotional, financial, social or family issues you are experiencing that may impact you and your child’s treatment schedule.
- If you feel overwhelmed or are experiencing a family crisis. Coping with an illness can be stressful. Reach out to a social worker any time you need additional support or counseling.
- If your financial situation changes. Social workers can provide referrals to help you manage your financial resources while your child is on treatment and explore potential community resources that may be available to you.
- If you must leave your child in someone else’s care for a brief period. If you need to return home briefly, you will need to arrange for another family member or friend to take care of your child. Your social worker can help you plan this transition.
- When returning to your home community. Social workers can provide support and counseling as you prepare to return home. Additionally, they can provide community referrals, including counseling services.
- When your child's custody or guardianship changes. Talk to your social worker about how this may impact your child’s treatment and medical decision-making abilities.
What is the role of a medical social worker at St. Jude?
St. Jude social workers hold master’s degrees in social work and are licensed to practice counseling by the Tennessee Board of Social Work. They have specific expertise to help you, your child and your family cope with the emotional and social impact of living with illness and receiving treatment. Social workers also provide education in the community and in the hospital about the impact of illness on patients and families.
To find out more about Social Work or to reach the social worker assigned to your child, call 901-595-3670. If you are inside the hospital, dial 3670. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3670.