By Victor Montour
This year for National Social Workers Month let me start out with a Happy Social Workers Month to all the social workers in the world making a difference. This year I thought I would share with you a little bit about social workers. I started this blog a month ago, asking our fellow Front Range Hospice and Palliative Care Social Workers a couple of questions. I wanted to give them the chance to tell you why they do what they do. Who better to her it from then directly from a social worker. So, the first question that I asked our social workers was, why do you love or like being a social worker? Now you need to know the social workers at Front Range Hospice and Palliative Care are a mobile work force. They are out in the community meeting with families and patients. So, getting them in a room together is few and far between days. Interesting enough the responses I received were very similar.
From a very young age they wanted to help people. Help People…… Not money, not great working hours, not a low stress work environment, it was to help people. Now you’re asking how does a Social Worker help people. Cassie Norwood, LCSW told me teaching coping, forgiveness and grace is a special moment for her and her clients. Cassie loves helping the family on the end of life journey especially when she is witness to the patient and family realizing they can do it. They can die with grace and dignity.
Lydia Appling LCSW, shared with me that It is so rewarding for her to know that she is making a difference in the patients journey, one of the most crucial events in their lives. Lydia also said many times, she walks away feeling her patients and families served her in some ways more than she served them. Lydia also said, “Yes, there are challenges with communication barriers or family members’ differing of opinions of what a person’s end of life should look like, but that is where the help of a social worker can assist them in working through those things. And when a patient dies peacefully after having said their “goodbyes” and “I love You’s”, that is the best reward”.
Amanda Christenson, LCSW shared with me that in hospice, we work together as a team to address the person’s physical, spiritual, and emotional health. All of these things are important to bring someone peace and closure at the end of their life. Amanda considers her current position in hospice to be an honor and privilege because she is able to provide care to our patients and families during their most precious time in their life. Amanda all so said “as I work with our patients and families, I find myself learning just as much, if not more, than they are learning from me”.
As a nurse, I know firsthand the value of a social worker. Knowing this, I must add that social workers are used in many areas of healthcare and in the community. Some of these areas include helping people who are experiencing devastating illnesses, mental health crises, our veterans, children, families, and the elderly. Yet many people still misunderstand who social workers are and the invaluable contributions they bring to healthcare and to our communities.
The second question I asked our social works was, what do you find challenging in social work? The answers were very clear and yet caring for others. I figured out with this one question that social workers are never bored. They walk around frustrated most of the time because the challenges keep coming with little solutions. They have so much to do with so little time to do it. Social workers carry an immense responsibility, stepping into people’s lives to make a difference. Some people bless social workers while others may curse them. Social workers see people at their worst…. And at their best. Social workers see life begin …… and end. Social workers cry a lot, they laugh a lot. But most of all social workers know what it is to be human and to be humane.
Thank you, Social Workers, your willingness to give yourself selflessly to others is greatly appreciated. In closing I share with you a quote from Mahatma Gandhi…