They listen. They understand. They care.
As practitioners, social workers are trained to help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. They are employed to effect positive change with individuals, families, groups, and entire communities. At LSMNJ, they confront some of the most challenging issues facing individuals, families, communities, and society and forge solutions that help people reach their full potential and make people’s lives better in many ways.
Our social workers take on the vital role of communicating with our patients individually about all their needs, whether in person or virtually. It’s the role of our social workers to ensure all their different aspects of care are seen and understood whether working with patients of Journey Hospice, residents in affordable Housing, or seniors who live at Crane’s Mill Retirement Community or are participants of Lutheran Senior LIFE PACE Program. A social worker’s systematic approach ensures that everyone we serve receives help with their medical or psychological needs and spiritual, social, emotional, and physical needs.
“When COVID-19 struck our communities, it affected the way that we can assist people,” explains Madeline Martinez, Licensed Social Worker at Journey Hospice. “Now we make phone calls and try to provide resources utilizing telehealth services, whenever possible. Patients will often respond, ‘I am not good with that technology stuff.’ I educate them and their families on the importance of hearing someone’s voice, even if the patient may not be able to respond.” Martinez adds, “We also send out newsletters to educate, update, and entertain patients and families.”
A social worker’s specialized training allows them to listen carefully and be the eyes and ears for our clients — to help them clearly understand their choices, needs, goals, and limitations. LSMNJ social workers support our patients and their families to help form the best course of care possible. Transitioning to the virtual process has had its challenges.
At Lutheran Senior LIFE at Jersey City, the process in which our social workers reach out to our senior participants has changed as well. To minimize the spread of the virus, they primarily work remotely unless they need to see participants face-to-face. The team provides daily wellness phone calls to all participants to address any concerns and general health needs.
Some participants are provided with a GrandPad® device, which is a user-friendly tablet for seniors that helps providers stay connected via video calls. We also introduced online video conferencing such as Zoom and GoToMeeting to conduct team meetings, family meetings, and recreational activities. Many of our participants were anxious and worried that no one would hear them or help them. The use of the GrandPad® technology has dramatically reduced the participants feeling of isolation.
Caring for the social and emotional needs of our residents and program participants is at the core of our mission. We are proud of the care we can extend that goes beyond physical care. Social workers are here to help. We may not be able to physically hold your hand to comfort you, but we are certainly here to continue to guide you in any way we can.