I have been looking at getting back to work. Not knowing the Irish benefits system as well as I once knew the system in the UK, I was looking for assistance with negotiating the system from a social worker in the dialysis unit. You see, when I was in the care of Tallaght University Hospital, in Dublin, I had the benefit of the social worker who was attached to the Dialysis Unit there. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore does not have a social worker. There is not one for the dialysis unit, nor is there one anywhere in the hospital.

The importance of social work in a healthcare setting is recognised internationally, even if it may be underestimated. As, Annette Sverker says, social work can 

“provide knowledge and skills that healthcare organizations and institutions could use to help their patients. Patients with health problems often experience personality and social environment difficulties while trying to manage their disease, especially chronic diseases. The overall goal of social work in healthcare is to prevent and reduce negative social and psychosocial consequences of diseases and to encourage and teach these patients how to use their own resources. This work includes helping individuals find strategies to cope with the difficulties of living with a chronic disease.”

Miller Fitzergald J. Coping with chronic illness: Overcoming powerlessness. FA Davis, cop, Philadelphia 2000 in Sverke Annette (2017) The Importance of Social Work in Healthcare for Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Quality in Primary Care, [accessed 2019-10-29] at http://primarycare.imedpub.com/the-importance-of-social-work-in-healthcare-forindividuals-with-rheumatoid-arthritis.php?aid=19700

Whilst I have now found what benefits to which I should be entitled via the internet, I am sure that there are many other patients both in the dialysis unit here and throughout the hospital who would find that very difficult.

I have, therefore, raised the issue with the clinical nurse manager in the dialysis unit and have highlighted it here on the blog as well. Perhaps someone in the HSE will take notice? They did take notice of my concern at the smoking outside the window of the room where my dialysis takes place.

And if they don’t, well there is always contacting politicians to force the issue – isn’t there?

Surely it cannot be the case that people in the Midlands do not need this support. If social workers exist in Dublin hospitals, where there is a lot of support in the capital, surely they are needed even more so elsewhere in the country where support is not as readily available.