Today is World Social Work Day, and Life Care wants to shine a spotlight on the important role that social workers play in the life of skilled nursing facilities.
Social workers do psychosocial assessments of patients to learn about their backgrounds and their preferences to help the facility meet their needs during their stay. They listen when residents have concerns, and they make sure appropriate plans are in place for residents when they leave after their rehab stay, arranging community resources for them as needed.
Let’s meet a few of our outstanding social workers around the country!
Jessica Oge and Hostonia Segree, social workers at Lakeside Health Center in West Palm Beach, Florida
Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She has been at Lakeside for about one year now.
“I fell in love with helping people and providing resources,” she said. “I love empowering families and individuals.”
In one instance, Jessica took personal time to find a resident’s daughter. The daughter had been in several group homes and was hard to trace after she had been hospitalized because of privacy concerns, but she was finally able to reconnect the family.
Hostonia has been at Lakeside for about four months. She has her bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology.
“Social work is very rewarding – for you and the residents,” she said.
Lisa Turner, executive director at Lakeside, shared, “These two ladies support each other and the building in everything they do. Because of the community dynamics that our facility is located in, some of our residents have been previously homeless. Jessica and Hostonia work with our interdisciplinary team, and they are able to transition residents to a proper setting for each resident’s needs.”
Lovette Crowley, director of social services at Hale Anuenue Restorative Care Center in Hilo, Hawaii
Lovette was born and raised on the Big Island and traveled a lot with her husband as a military wife before coming back to Hawaii. She has a master’s degree in social work and has been director of social services at the facility since April 1996.
“In my culture, respect for our kupuna (elders) is very important,” Lovette shared.
Lovette is the team captain for the facility’s Alzheimer’s Association fundraising and has truly embraced the cause. In 2019, she and her team raised almost $6,000 for the cause. She has also attended a workshop by Teepa Snow, a dementia expert, at her own expense. It’s a passion driven by personal experience – her father had Alzheimer’s.
Lovette’s executive director, Gail Kahookele, shared, “She supports our kupuna by staying abreast of current methods of support, particularly for those living with the challenges of dementia. She is an accomplished musician and shares her gift of playing the ukulele and bass with the residents, family and staff at Hale. She truly defines the word ‘aloha.’”
Lovette shared that social work all boils down to one thing: empathy.
“Always begin where the resident is,” she said. “They are very much individuals just like us. They are still treasures.”
Joy Ford, social services director at Life Care Center of Copper Basin, Tennessee
Joy has been at Life Care Center of Copper Basin for almost three years. She has a degree in social science and criminal justice and began her social work career serving victims of domestic abuse. Now she enjoys advocating for the senior population.
“I have a servant’s heart, so social work just sort of came naturally,” Joy shared. “The main thing is we give people the tools that they need to be successful.”
When the transportation coordinator had a family emergency, she jumped in to make sure the appointments and schedules were taken care of. Being certified to transport patients, she also took on the task of driving them to their appointments. She also helped a resident set up transportation with a local ambulance company so she could be home for Christmas dinner.
“You try to assist the resident with whatever their goal is,” Joy said. “Sometimes it’s an appointment, and sometimes it’s getting home to have Christmas dinner with their family.”
Her executive director, Joshua Lee, shared, “Joy is a superb example of a team player. She has set a great example for others as she is often the first to lend a helping hand . She is often seen comforting residents and family members in times of need.”
Judy Veltidi, director of social services at Life Care Center of Plano, Texas
Judy has worked at Life Care Center of Plano for more than 14 years.
Her social work journey began even before that, when she was sitting at a table with her father and brothers and they were discussing computers.
“I just want to work with people,” she told them.
“You should be a social worker, then,” her father replied.
She started her social work career working with the mentally ill but has found her sweet spot working in skilled nursing.
“The nursing home is like a little community,” Judy said. “You’re talking to podiatrists, home health, residents, family members and others. Every day is a new day.”
Her executive director, Randy Langford, shared, “Her heart is here, and everyone in Plano knows and respects her. She is a wealth of knowledge for community resources, and tons of social workers from all around us call to ask her opinion on things or where she finds this or that.”
Judy added, “Social work is rewarding because every single day you touch lives. You’re changing lives, helping residents and families make the best decisions they can.”