“It has always been a dream of mine to help families with crises, helping them come together to see them through the hardest part of their lives,” says Stacey Downing.
As a Medical Social Worker, Stacey is an advocate, resource and companion for families dealing with a cancer diagnosis. “I bring a voice to families who can’t or don’t think they can speak up to ask questions either in the community or hospital system.” Her contributions are a part of the family-centered care we deliver at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
Help Right From the Start
When Stacey first meets with a family she gives them a red Riley bag filled with books and folders outlining information about cancer, financial information, family medical leave, homebound schooling, emotional coping and much more. She feels that as a social worker, she is there to help families through this challenging time by teaching them how to cope with a cancer diagnosis and by supporting them as they return to life after treatment.
In addition to being a resource and advocate for families, Stacey has also helped to initiate and run various programs to help both families and patients feel special and have fun during their time at Riley at IU Health. Programs such as the Riley Cancer Center Prom and Graduation Ceremony help celebrate important milestones patients, currently in treatment, would otherwise miss. Another program Stacey is involved in is the Sibling Tour Program. This program helps siblings become more acclimated to their surroundings at Riley at IU Health through a tour, while providing them with activities, gift cards and more to help them feel special. “I didn’t realize how much of an impact these programs have on families until I get feedback from them letting us know how much these programs help bring all members of the family together for fun during a difficult time.”
The Support Doesn’t End When the Treatments Do
The relationships Stacey builds are long-lasting. “I follow a family from diagnosis to the end, whether they are off treatment or need help with anything, they can always call me for support. Our relationship never ends, I still have families five years off treatment calling me.”