February 4th, 2014

Hospital social work

Hi! So, before posting this, I googled for "medical social worker", "hospital social worker", "medicine social work case studies" and variations thereof, and found a lot of informative hits. However, most of them are American results, while my story takes place in Canada, and also the information on most of them is pretty broad and no longer answers more specific questions I have. Also I didn't find many case studies for any setting.

My story is set in modern day Toronto and my main character is a medical social worker. What I need/would like to understand more in depth is, exactly how hands-on is her job? I'm assuming, from the research I've been able to do until this point, that she's the hands-on middle man between the patient and the medical team, in terms of advocating for the patient.

* Does she counsel the patient, or does she only find a counselor/psychologist to counsel them, or both as needed?
* As I understand it, she's also the person who personally makes sure support is in place before discharge - is she only the person to assess and indicate needs, or the person to personally make calls/arrangements? Or does it depend on whether or not the patient has family who is able to make arrangements? (By arrangements I mean things like home visits by a nurse, physiotherapy, a nanny for small kids if the patient isn't able to care for them alone, a safe shelter if need be etc)
* How informed is she about the case? Is she privy to the same information re:condition/diagnosis/treatment as the doctor and nurses?
* In what situations would she have to work with hospital lawyers, if ever?
* In general hospitals, do all patients meet with a social worker for at least one meeting, or only if deemed necessary (based on socioeconomic situations, mental illnesses, etc)? And if the latter, who makes that decision - the attending physician? I mean, results I found were mixed, so I get the sense that while "all patients could benefit from contact with a social worker" far from all of them actually do in practice.
* How early on is she called in? When the patient first arrives? Does she follow up with the patient/patient's family after discharge?
* I understand she is in place to support both the patient and their family - does doctor/patient confidentiality apply here and in what parameters? Is it up to her discretion?

Thank you so much if anyone can help me even a little bit, and sorry for the barrage of questions!