November 30, 2021

How Your Social Worker Can Help You on Dialysis

Kidney disease can be overwhelming, and you may be facing many changes and challenges. 

You may feel scared, anxious, overwhelmed, and confused. You may have questions such as what is dialysis? Will I still be able to work? What is the best option for me?  Your renal social worker is there to help you navigate your dialysis journey.  Your renal social worker is part of the team that includes the doctor, nurse, dietitian, and most importantly You.   Part of a renal social worker’s job is:

  1. Help you cope-assess for depression, refer for counseling if needed, discuss your emotions and fears, be available to normalize your feelings.  Your social worker will also help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a patient, how to submit a grievance, and explain questions you may have about the dialysis process. 
  2. Help you choose the best treatment-discuss your different options including peritoneal, home hemo, staff assist, transplant, and incenter hemo.  Learn what is most important in your life and find the best treatment for you. 
  3. Help you take your medications-help create reminders for medications, give resources if you need medication assistance, provide education on what the medications are and why they are needed along with your doctor, nurse, and dietitian. 
  4. Help you stay active-even though you are on dialysis you can still work, travel, exercise, and life a full life.  Your social worker will help set up your travel wherever you want to go in the world.  Social workers can provide information to your employer if needed to let them know you are on dialysis. They are also able to work with you to create an exercise plan to keep you healthy. 
  5. Help with your needs-you may have financial and insurance issues.  Your social worker will connect you to resources that can assist with your needs.  Your social worker will also be your advocate.  You can ask your social worker to ask questions on your behalf, push for things that you need, and speak up for you when needed. 
  6. Help live your best life-being on dialysis does not mean that your life is over.  Yes, you will have changes and need to make adjustments, but you will still be able to live and thrive.  

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