S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Community-based Program Provides Model for Patient Support

Published Paper Demonstrates Value of Multi-disciplinary Collaboration Between Social Workers and Medical Professionals

NEW YORK, NY – September 5, 2012 – A new paper in a special volume of the academic journal Social Work in Health Care highlights the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation as a model for how community-based social work can positively impact patients with chronic diseases. Called “Psychosocial Impact of Lupus: Social Work's Role and Function,” this issue devoted entirely to lupus was spearheaded by Nancy Beckerman, CSW, ACSW, DSW, Yeshiva University. Contributors include several leading physicians in lupus treatment and research from NYU Langone Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Hospital for Special Surgery.

Wendy Schudrich, MSW, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, authored the paper in collaboration with S.L.E. Lupus Foundation National Director of Program Development Diane Gross, MPH and Director of Social Services Jessica Rowshandel, MSW.

Their paper demonstrates how community-based outreach such as that developed by the Foundation effectively meets the psychosocial needs of people living with a chronic disease such as lupus. Dr. Nancy Beckerman and Dr. Charles Auerbach from Yeshiva University initiated this research and invited the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation to provide an overview of the role for community social work in lupus. Drs. Beckerman and Auerbach first identified the specific psychosocial challenges faced by people with lupus. For instance, like many people living with a chronic disease, people with lupus battle feelings of depression, anxiety and isolation as well as financial difficulties that come along with physical limitations affecting employment.

"The S.L.E. Foundation is an excellent example of how the social work field can make a real difference in patient lives through peer support, social services and community outreach programs,” commented Ms. Schudrich. “Lupus is one of many diseases that hit women and people of color the hardest, and the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation program demonstrates the value of working with existing medical and community resources to provide psychosocial support to underserved urban neighborhoods. Because lupus is such a complex and chronic disease that affects those who may already be underserved, the community-based services of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation are an essential component of the health and social safety net for this vulnerable population.”

S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Community-based Program

Over 12 years old, the Lupus Cooperative of New York (LCNY) is a grassroots, community-based effort that assists individuals with lupus through direct support services that include help resolving difficulties related to healthcare, housing, employment, personal finances, education and emotional issues. Specific services include bilingual and monolingual support groups, physician and other healthcare referrals, one-on-one counseling, emergency grants, nutrition and exercise workshops, referrals regarding social services and benefits and assistance filling out applications, education sessions for other community-based agencies, provider education, participation in health fairs, monthly advice column, and bilingual health education materials.

In addition, community social work at the Foundation focuses on numerous activities with the goal of reaching and connecting different segments of the lupus community and building awareness about relevant issues in broader society.

"The success of this model is largely because we are located in the neighborhoods where residents are at greatest risk for lupus, and where we have been able to foster relationships with complementary health care organizations such as local hospitals and clinics,” commented Ms. Rowshandel. “That integration within the community allows us to draw on the best resources to help people with lupus access a wide range of services to meet their diverse needs. In addition, we are able to advocate on their behalf with government officials at the city, state and federal levels."