During the month of March, we celebrate National Professional Social Work Month to acknowledge the efforts of social workers everywhere, especially in our Providence Life Services family! At Providence, our social workers are an important part of our care teams at our Rehab and Skilled Nursing facilities, as well as within our Hospice ministry. But what makes a Providence social worker special?
Eyes to See the Big Picture
Social workers meet with newly-admitted clients to perform assessments, meaning they strive to understand the needs, desires, goals, and expectations of the patient and their family. They learn more about the situation at home, who has been the primary caregiver, and what kind of family dynamics are in play. These details play a big role in deciding on a plan of care. By putting these pieces of their life together, the social worker develops a picture of what treatments and supportive services the patient and their family may benefit from.
Feet to Turn on a Dime
One of the things most social workers say they enjoy about their job is that no two days are ever alike. Their to-do lists are often widely varied – from tracking down a missing pair of eyeglasses, to helping arrange a visit from an out-of-country family member, to coordinating a referral to Meals on Wheels, to counseling a bereaved family. And they can get an emergent phone call at any moment that causes them to drop everything and attend to a crisis situation.
A Mind for Detail
The social worker stays in close communication with the rest of the interprofessional care team to help facilitate discharge planning for patients who are going home or to another facility. They help coordinate all the little details for a successful transition – securing referrals for physical therapy, home health care, or other services. A Hospice social worker may help guide the family through the myriad decisions that need to be made regarding living wills and other advance directives, death benefits and funeral arrangements. And at the end of the day, all of those assessments and progress notes need to be accurately documented in the patient’s medical record to ensure clear communication.
Guts to Have Difficult Discussions
When it comes to end-of-life care, the choices that families need to face are extremely difficult to make, let alone initiate. Many people refrain from talking about death, so as not to upset their loved ones. But the social worker knows that talking about what to expect will actually help family members prepare for their upcoming loss. By being a neutral third-party, the social worker often helps navigate the pain and confusion that comes with saying goodbye. They also often serve as a patient advocate – making sure that the patient’s wishes are carried out.
A Heart for Serving Others
Most of all, our social workers have a passion for working with people, especially the elderly. They take the Providence mission statement to heart: “to enhance the lives of those we serve in the name of Jesus Christ.” This month and every month, we appreciate all you do in service to our clients, patients and families!