Frequently asked questions
What do hospital social workers do?
Hospital Social Workers can provide practical and emotional help for you, your family, friends and carers when you are in hospital and also when you come to the hospital for clinic appointments or treatment. If you continue to need support from us for a short time after you have left hospital we may keep in touch with you by phone.
We help arrange care for you at home when you leave hospital, if you need it. This process is called discharge planning, and you, your family/carers, the hospital staff and the health and social care services in the area where you live are all involved in this. Also see 'What if I need help when I leave hospital? '
How can a social worker help me?
A central part of what social workers do is to listen to patients and carers. We can listen and help you with any worries that you might have about yourself or the people that are close to you. If you have financial worries or questions about what social security benefits you may be able to get, we can put you in touch with others who can help you. More on welfare rights>>
What happens to my benefits while I’m in hospital?
Social workers are not able to give detailed welfare benefits advice, however they can refer you to a welfare benefits advisor either in the hospital in the community. The welfare benefits advisor will check that you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to and will help you claim for benefits More on welfare rights>>
What if I need help when I leave hospital?
Your social worker will discuss with you what help you might need when you leave the hospital. This is called an assessment. The social worker will also talk to the nurses and doctors looking after you and also the occupational therapist or physiotherapist if they working with you.
If you live in Tower Hamlets the social worker will agree with you a plan of care to support you when you leave hospital and will arrange for help to start when you get home. For example, this could include help with washing and dressing, delivery of hot meals, help with shopping and housework or information about day centres or community centres. If it is not possible for you to return home after you leave hospital your social worker will discuss with you a range of other options such as sheltered housing, extra care, residential care or nursing homes.
If you live in another borough the hospital social worker, with your permission, will pass your details onto your local social services department so that they can arrange care for you when you are discharged.
My accommodation is not big enough. What can I do?
Your social worker can advise you about how to apply for more suitable accommodation but they cannot arrange for you to move. If you are homeless your social worker can advise you about how to apply for housing.
How long will I have support from a social worker for?
Your social worker will work with you while you are staying in hospital.
The hospital social worker will contact you again a few weeks after you have left hospital to see how you are getting on. Most people do not need any further help from a social worker once they return home but if you do, a social worker who is based in your local area will work with you.
I need extra support after I leave hospital. How do I find a care home?
If you need to move to a care home after you leave hospital your social worker will help you find one that is suitable for you with the help of a placements co-ordinator. It is not always possible to find a suitable care home in the area requested. There are also organisations who can help you look for a care home. See the further information section for details.