By Nurse Diane
As a nurse in the hospital, it was my job to take care of the patient from the time they walked into the door, until they were discharged. Once the left the hospital, their lives were out of my hands. Some of the patients leaving needed more help than their insurance company would allow. Some would need home health, equipment, home safety needs, things that I was not able to take care of. Luckily, our hospital had a few social workers employed there. These ladies would visit everyone on the floor that would have a need at discharge that they couldn't take care of by themselves. They did things like find beds in nursing homes, or step down units, set up home oxygen therapy, even visit the homes to make sure the patient would be able to take care of their needs without any problems. The social worker was also there to help with funeral arrangements and comfort families.
Social workers are not only found in hospitals though, Here are some other places where they can be found according to bls.gov.:
Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and help families in need of assistance. They help parents find services, such as child care, or apply for benefits, such as food stamps. They intervene when children are in danger of neglect or abuse. Some help arrange adoptions, locate foster families, or work to get families back together. Clinical social workers provide mental health care to help children and families cope with changes in their lives, such as divorce or other family problems.
School social workers work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop plans and strategies to improve students’ academic performance and social development. Students and their families are often referred to social workers to deal with problems such as aggressive behavior, bullying, or frequent absences from school.
Healthcare social workers help patients understand their diagnosis and make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, housing, or healthcare. They provide information on services, such as home health care or support groups, to help patients manage their illness or disease. Social workers help doctors and other healthcare professionals understand the effects diseases and illnesses have on patients’ mental and emotional health.
Some healthcare social workers specialize in gerontological social work or hospice and palliative care social work.
- Gerontological social workers help senior citizens and their families. They help clients find services such as programs that provide older adults with meals or with home health care. In some cases, they provide information about assisted living facilities or nursing homes or work with older adults in those settings. They help clients and their families make plans for possible health complications or where clients will live if they can no longer care for themselves.
- Hospice and palliative care social workers help patients adjust to serious, chronic, or terminal illnesses. Palliative care focuses on relieving or preventing pain and other symptoms associated with serious illness. Hospice is a type of palliative care for people who are dying. Social workers in this setting provide and find services, such as support groups or grief counselors, to help patients and their families cope with the illness or disease.
Mental health and substance abuse social workers help clients with mental illnesses or addictions. They provide information on services, such as support groups or 12-step programs, to help clients cope with their illness.
March is Social Worker Appreciation Month. If you know a social worker, or have personal use of one, don't forget to show your appreciation for all their hard work to make your life a little easier.