Social Work

Medical Social Work in Spina Bifida

The Medical Social Worker on the Spina Bifida Team is Regina Mc Cann. The other Social Work members of the Neurosurgery Team are Michelle D’Alton, Louise Donegan and Martina Nash. We are all based in the Medical Social Work Department on the first floor of the OPD building. The contact number is 01-8784212.

Referral Pathway

We accept referrals from the multi-disciplinary team (e.g. nursing staff, doctors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, etc.), the Chaplaincy department, family members and outside agencies. The Medical Social Worker attends the Spina Bifida clinic where she can meet with families also. Parents can also phone into the Medical Social Work Secretary if they feel they need support and need to speak with the Medical Social Worker.

Role of Medical Social Worker

Medical Social Workers work as part of the Spina Bifida team. Our primary focus is the emotional and social impact of illness and hospitalisation on the lives of our patients and their families. We recognise the fact that a child’s illness and subsequent attendance at hospital can be a stressful time for families, therefore we offer both practical and emotional support with the aim of minimising these difficulties. This involves the medical social worker conducting an assessment of personal and family situations to aid in the effective delivery of care to patients. We continue our contact with families on a needs basis

Reasons for Referral:

  • New diagnosis of serious illness/ condition/ disability
  • Social assessment & support
  • Parenting support
  • Practical support (accessing benefits / entitlements, financial, housing support)
  • Discharge planning
  • Liaison with community supports
  • Palliative / end of life care
  • Bereavement support

Emotional Support

The Medical Social Worker can provide support and counselling to families where a child receives a new diagnosis of Spina Bifida.  This support and counselling is available on both a short term basis during hospital stay and on a long term basis after discharge from hospital. This counselling can be beneficial to families as they learn more about their child’s diagnosis and the impact of this on both parents and siblings and can help families to cope at this time.  This counselling is available at any stage throughout the child’s attendance here in hospital on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.  

Practical Support & Resources

Medical Social Worker provides information and assistance with benefits and financial entitlements. This information and support includes applying for 

  • Domiciliary Care Allowance
  • Long Term Illness
  • Medical Card Applications,
  • Carers Allowance or Carers Benefit if appropriate.  
  • We can also assist with discharge planning.

All the above can be accessed through the Citizen’s Information Office also if parents need further information. 

 We can support parents with letters for other avenues they wish to access such as:

  • Car discs through the Irish Wheelchair Association (if appropriate)
  • Housing support letters
  • Financial support letters to the Community Welfare Officer.

Sibling Support

The Medical Social Work Department is also concerned with the impact of a long term condition on siblings.  We run a Sibling Camp (Easter) in the hospital and the siblings of children with a diagnosis of Spina Bifida can attend.  This camp gives children the opportunity to meet other children who have a sibling who attends the hospital on a long term basis.  Children get a chance to talk about their feelings and how to manage these feelings in fun and creative ways. 

Other complicating factors

At the time of a child’s hospital admission other family issues and difficulties can add to the stress that families are experiencing. These issues can include family relationship difficulties, separation and custody issues, child protection concerns, financial issues, addiction or mental health issues and housing.  It can be helpful to have a Medical Social Worker’s assistance to manage these issues in the hospital setting.