The Social Worker
Although every good medical team has a social worker on board, the social worker tends to be the team member families know least as time goes on. This is ironic because your social worker can be a gold mine of support, ideas, and information at every stage of your child's life with diabetes.
Remove the Stigma
Every family should meet with the team social worker at diagnosis time, whether it's in the hospital or as an outpatient. At that time, the social worker will be assessing your family to see if there are any special needs. Social workers have an excellent general knowledge in areas like making your insurance work for you, setting up a program in school that works for your child, and understanding the psychological ramifications of the onset of diabetes on the patient and the entire family.
Chances are you won't have actual appointments with your social worker. Ask her, ahead of time, to pop in and say hi at all of your endocrinologist appointments for the first year. This way, you'll all get to know one another before a crisis call is needed.
By making the social worker another nice person your child knows on the medical team, you'll help remove any feelings of shame that your child might have if and when the time comes that you feel a full appointment with a social worker is needed.
How a Social Worker Can Help
The social worker is trained to help you cope with any unusual situations that may arise in your life with diabetes. A small child heads home from the hospital after diagnosis and begins sleeping in his parent's room again every night. What's a family to think or do? Your social worker can give you insight. A teenager who has been compliant for years suddenly refuses to care for herself (see Chapter 16 for more on teen issues). Your social worker can intervene and give you excellent insights and also help you find the perfect therapist, should you agree your child needs one.