March is National Social Work Month. In recognition of that, I thought I’d write about the role of social work in a long-term care facility. In general, the role of the social worker is to enable each individual to function at the highest possible level of social and emotional wellness. The range of responsibilities include: admission planning, transitioning residents from their previous living situation, advocacy, upholding residents’ rights, determining medical treatment wishes, assessment and care planning, complaint resolution, crisis management, discharge planning, coping with disease and disability, and end of life support. This is by no means a comprehensive list and we often joke that “when in doubt, ask the social worker to do it!”
Social workers are trained to look at a systems approach to helping people. Therefore, they interact with all levels of staff as well as residents, their families and friends in order to enhance the opportunity for the residents to have a positive life experience. Building on residents’ strengths and promoting choice is a primary coping mechanism as well as a way to maintain dignity, individuality, and autonomy.
Social work is noble, joyful, satisfying, rewarding and a sometimes tiring and thankless job. But in the end it is a privilege to touch upon each resident’s life and contribute, if even in a small way, to their comfort and well-being. Happy Social Work Month to all!
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