Hello Melissa! Can you introduce yourself?
I am Melissa, a social worker at The Neuro in the Brain Tumour Programme and the clinical coordinator for the Social Work team at the MUHC Adult sites.
What is the job of a social worker in a hospital like The Neuro?
We are an integral part of patients' admission process. When they get admitted we analyze their clinical, home and family situation. It gives us a sense of how we think the admission would look like and then what the discharge plan would also look like. In many ways, we are considered discharge planners. We figure out how to get the patient from hospital to home, if possible, safely. If home is not safe, we look for other alternatives. And so, we work with different allied health workers and our community partners like the CLSC to come up with a plan.
What are some of the challenges specific to the brain tumour clinic?
The Brain Tumour Programme is probably one of the toughest programmes here, because of the diagnosis. We are dealing with the initial diagnosis, and it can be quite a shock to patients and families. We're there to support them, provide supportive counseling regarding diagnosis, and help them through their journey while in the hospital. We also get patients that are coming back; there may be progression of their tumours.
We also do discuss end of life care. The type of tumours that we see are quite aggressive. The treatments that we're offering are to prolong the life of patients. But we do get to a stage when the patients are at the end-of-life care. It can be quite emotional for the patient to make the decision that no more treatment is needed and focus on their end-of-life care.
What is it that gives you that sense of joy doing all this work?
I've been doing this for 18 years. And I think when you feel like you've accomplished a goal in terms of helping, assisting, supporting, there's nothing better than that.
Do you think there's still work to do in terms of inclusion?
There's always work to do. But for sure, there's a lot more recognition of the work of black professionals working at The Neuro. And I think that's an added plus to any organization. I think Black History month gives a chance to focus on the next generations. We give them something that I perhaps did not have when I was growing up. I think the more black professionals there are, the more opportunities and doors will open.