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'A compassionate heart': What people on dialysis appreciate most about their dialysis social workers

Help. Compassion. Guidance. Knowledge. These were just a few of the answers we got when we asked people, "What do you appreciate most about your social worker?"
social worker talking with older couple

Help. Compassion. Guidance. Knowledge. These were just a few of the answers we got when we asked our social media followers, "What do you appreciate most about your social worker?"

"She is always there to answer questions when needed," wrote Candee B. "She listens and has a compassionate heart," said Melissa G. Ralph M. said he appreciates "her teachings, guidance and support."

Dialysis social workers care for their patients in three important ways: providing emotional support, managing administrative tasks and advocating for their patients to other members of the care team. U.S. dialysis centers are required by the federal government to have a social worker with a master's degree on staff and that person may also need a social work license, depending on which state they work in.

"My brother's dialysis social worker had really helped him a lot with the paper work for a kidney transplant," wrote Patricia B. Tackling paperwork is one of many administrative tasks with which social workers offer assistance to patients.

Social workers act as a general resource for patients and families as they learn to live with kidney failure and help patients understand their rights. They help patients get through the emotional impact of having kidney failure, including depression and physical changes that occur.

A willingness to help and a willingness to listen came up in many of the responses. "She always asks us if we need anything and is willing to help," wrote Sandy T. "I like my guy because he listens when I need to talk," said Rachel M.

Dialysis social workers can leave an imprint on the lives of the patients they work with that lasts a lifetime.

"It has been 47 years since my kidney transplant. I still remember Irene, my social worker," wrote Jeannette H. "To a teenager who lived with fear of dying, then fear that I would reject, she was there the whole way!" Jeanette said Irene encouraged and visited her, and brought her small gifts to cheer her up and motivate her. She provided a listening ear when needed, and helped her deal with bullying at school.

"She was awesome," Jeannette summarized. "I carry a little of her with me."

March is National Social Work Month, which is a great time to tell your social worker how much you appreciate their support!