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Penny DeCou, LCSW: The Role of an Oncology Social Worker

January 17, 2019

The role of an Oncology Social Worker (OSW) is to provide direct support and navigation services to patients and their families throughout the treatment process. As Texas Oncology employs an increasing number of oncology social workers at more locations, we can assist patients with daily practical needs as well as complex needs, such as adjusting to illness, communicating with loved ones, and advance healthcare decision-making.

To determine when to include a social worker on a patient’s oncology team, patients are screened for distress, depression, and psychosocial needs. When patients indicate significant levels of distress, they’re proactively contacted by our team to assess the nature of their distress and connect them with the support available to them, such as counseling and peer support programs.

Patients may also elect to meet with their assigned social worker to review resources available to them to enhance quality of life throughout their personal cancer journey.

The role of an oncology social worker has evolved immensely since I began my career at Texas Oncology in 2009, with our continued focus on helping patients break down barriers to care, including transportation issues, financial concerns, anxiety depression and more.

Penny DeCou, LCSW

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.