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Going the Extra Mile: Cancer Support Community CNJ Social Workers Go Where the Patients Are When the Patients Can't Get to Them


CSCCNJ celebrates National Professional Social Work Month by honoring social workers who make a difference in the lives of their participants every day

BEDMINSTER, NJ (PRWEB) March 27, 2018

In early March, there was a foot of snow outside, and most Northern New Jersey companies had shut down to keep their employees safe and off the roads. Cancer Support Community Central NJ (CSCCNJ) was no different, but the implications of the decision were. A support group for friends and family members of cancer patients was scheduled to meet at the CSCCNJ headquarters in Bedminster, and for many of the participants, the time together is important to their emotional wellbeing. So, Program Director Jill Kaplan, MSW, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, made sure that the group's participants would not be hampered by the falling snow. Through video conferencing technology, Kaplan and the participants were able to connect both literally and figuratively despite the snowstorm.

With three significant snow storms affecting NJ in quick succession, travel and access to support groups continued to be affected throughout the month. Thankfully, Ms. Kaplan was able to utilize the video conferencing technology to facilitate two additional groups, allowing participants to "attend" their scheduled support groups even when the roads were impassible.

"By using this technology, the inability to meet in person didn't stop the group from getting together and maintaining that essential connection. This group meets twice a month and our participants would have missed the entire month of March without it," says Kaplan, "Psychosocial support is a ‘lifeline' for them."

Support groups at CSCCNJ are unique; all sessions are offered at no charge and are facilitated by licensed mental health professionals. Individuals affected by cancer can also access individual counseling; education and nutrition workshops; health & wellness classes; activities that build social connections; and special programming offered every month. Social workers are available to assist individuals in navigating the cancer journey and connect them to vital resources within CSCCNJ and within the community, all of which can reduce the burden of the disease. All programs are available not only to cancer patients, but to their caregivers and loved ones as well, for as long as support is needed, at no charge.

"Social Workers are at the heart of Cancer Support Community CNJ. These exceptional professionals enable us to deliver on the promise of our mission. Every day, they are working to help reduce the burden of cancer on patients, caregivers and family members so that individuals can live fully in the face of the disease," says Amy Sutton, CEO of CSCCNJ, "Their dedication to supporting all people affected by cancer in the community is unmatched."

In New Jersey, 1,000 people are newly diagnosed with cancer every week. As Kaplan proved, the team at CSCCNJ provides support wherever and whenever it is needed, even beyond the confines of the Bedminster campus.

Another innovative initiative is the organization's School Based Support Groups. With 25% of all cancer patients raising children under the age of 19, CSCCNJ's social work team realizes the importance of working with school districts. Katherine Schaible, MSW, LSW, Program Coordinator at CSCCNJ, travels to local high schools to provide support groups for teens affected by cancer. And both Schaible and Kaplan make themselves available to school communities as a resource to address the impact cancer can have on the family. This may include educational programs which provide parents with tools to help them explain cancer to their children and guide them through the journey as well as supporting the professional educators with the knowledge of how cancer may influence the behavior of the child in their classroom.

Additionally, the social workers at CSCCNJ are committed to mentoring the next generation in the field by preparing interns for the unique challenges of oncology social work.

"By giving social work interns field experience and exposing them to this unique setting that extends across the continuum from newly diagnosed patients through bereaved," says Kaplan, "they can develop their skills and actively practice what they are learning in the classroom."

According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), every day, 650,000 social workers act as advocates, champions and leaders making society a better place to live. This year's theme for National Professional Social Work month is "Social Workers: Leaders. Advocates. Champions." NASW introduced National Professional Social Work Month for the first time in March 1963. The original purpose was to encourage public support and interest in social work as a profession. Today, CSCCNJ celebrates the licensed mental health professionals who facilitate the vital programs offered for all those affected by cancer.

CSCCNJ celebrates social workers like Kaplan and Schaible, as well as all of the social workers affiliated with the organization, and the important role they play in the ongoing assessment of participants' psychosocial needs, in addition to providing the support and/or appropriate resources to the community as needed. Thanks to social workers like Kaplan and Schaible, CSCCNJ can provide vital services to those in need so that no one faces cancer alone.

"Our programs are backed by evidence that the best cancer care includes social and emotional support," says Sutton, "and social workers are essential in delivering the best care."


About Cancer Support Community Central New Jersey: Cancer Support Community Central New Jersey (CSCCNJ) is a registered 501c(3) and an independently licensed affiliate of Cancer Support Community, an international non-profit organization. As experts in oncology mental health, the organization provides support, education, and hope to all people with cancer and their loved ones, so that no one faces cancer alone®. Backed by evidence that the best cancer care includes social and emotional support, CSCCNJ creates a supportive community to help individuals live with, through and beyond cancer. At no cost to patients, family members and caregivers, the organization delivers essential programs and services including individual and group support, educational workshops, nutrition and healthy cooking education, classes to enhance health and wellness and social activities for the entire family. For more information please visit their website at or call (908) 658-5400.

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