A social worker provides counselling and support to both patients and their families. Social workers focus on supporting people and their families with honesty, respect and without judgement, as their priorities and needs for living change. They provide particular support for families with children or patients who have no family living nearby, and assist with managing feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. They offer expertise to help solve difficult practical problems, financial advice and support, advocate where necessary and make referrals to other agencies.
Social workers have a clinical understanding of the disease process and its treatment and can act as a bridge between the patient, the family and the healthcare team. They provide information and education about the health care system. They can work as part of a specialist palliative care team or may work alongside other health professionals in providing care in the community setting. They are specialists in helping with grief and offer bereavement services.