The Role of Social Workers in Chronic Illness and Disability Care

by Marisa Bordowitz

  1. Scientific advances have been rampant thus extending the life span of people – including those with chronic illness in the U.S. It’s up to social workers to fulfill the complex task of improving or maintaining a positive quality of life for these disadvantaged individuals. Additionally, caring for an individual suffering chronic illness differs immensely than caring for one merely suffering a very temporary injury or condition. Care does not cease after a period of time. It must be continuous. (Findley, 2013 p. 83-84 ) tumblr_myh6941Dcc1qiyzppo1_400.gif
  2. One does not simply “care for someone with chronic illness”. Care and treatment must be a proactive, well thought out process. It should never be reactive as that only responds to the symptoms rather than actively (there’s that word again!) working to treat the illness.  (Findley, 2013 p.84 ) 200_s.gif
  3. The ecosystem perspective and the person-in-environment perspective does exactly what the latter sounds like: focuses on the patient and his/her environment. The ecosystem perspective only differs in that it does so on a MACRO level. It also communicates the interdependence of human issues, life circumstances, and social conditions in the client’s life. It provides assessment of BOTH strengths AND weaknesses (now that’s a change from the strength perspective) in these areas or interactions.  The heart/purpose of this perspective is to fathom the patient’s obstacles on a level that takes into account his/her social surroundings as well as view the client in his/her individual sociocultural environment. This perspective can be responsible for FLEXIBILITY, maximum accommodation, and “client-specific treatment approaches” . (Findley, 2013 p.89)giphy.gif
  4. ALSO popular is the behavioral model (also similar to what it sounds like) which fixates on conditioning and altering detrimental behavior. It has been implemented to diminish self-damaging behavior among the mentally challenged. Positive and negative reinforcement is executed. The model is more interested in actively changing rather than bothering to ask why change happens. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.224).raw.gif
  5. Social workers advocate for their clients, performing tasks that they’re unable to do themselves. (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.226).images
  6. Still don’t understand why social workers are key to the CCM (Chronic Care Model)? Think of it this way: their training encompasses “theories of human behavior, empowerment, discrimination, cultural awareness, family relations theories, and interpersonal communication”. These can all be KEY to assisting patients with chronic illness/disabilities!!!! We need their flexibility and sensitivity for misunderstood individuals. (Findley, 2013 p.91)




Works Cited

DiNitto, D., & McNeece, Carl Aaron. (2008). Social work : Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, Ill.: Lyceum Books.

Findley, P. A. (2013). Social work practice in the chronic care model: Chronic illness and disability care. Journal of Social Work, 14(1), 83-95.

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