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Social workers are the pathfinders of senior care. They get answers, connect dots, navigate through uncertainty and, most of all, solve problems. They are the expert professionals who make sure residents get the quality care they need.
March is National Social Workers Month, and Ecumen thanks and honors its social workers for their dedicated and selfless service to others.
In senior care, social workers, first and foremost, look out for the rights and welfare of residents in senior living care centers. They are advocates. “Our job is to make sure our residents are safe, honored, respected and well cared for,” said Jaimie Tikkanen, a Licensed Social Worker at Ecumen Bethany Community in Alexandria, Minn.
It’s a big job that touches most every aspect of senior care. Social workers are heavily involved at the transition points — when residents are admitted and discharged, experiencing challenges or are near the end of life.
Social workers also act as guides to help people get access to the public and private services they need, as well as to find social activities outside the care center. They supply a wealth of information on supportive services and programs.
When new residents are admitted to care centers, social workers explain the policies and procedures, do assessments and work on care plans. They ensure residents know what to expect and what their rights are. Likewise, they are key to the discharge process, making sure residents have access to the services they need to return home.
What skills does a social worker need? They are facilitators, mediators, organizers, implementers, expediters, information gatherers, communicators, diplomats and navigators.
“Our scope is broad,” Jamie says. “No two days are ever the same.”
To be an effective social work, Jamie says, you also must be unbiased and objective — able to see a situation from every angle. Frequently, it’s the social worker who is called upon to work through difficult issues involving competing points of view — or when an investigation is necessary.
Jamie, who is responsible for about 60 residents at Ecumen Bethany Community, started her social work career working with children. But when she started working with the elderly 14 years ago, she knew she had found her calling.
“I love working with older people,” Jamie says. “It’s so rewarding. Each person is filled with life experiences, and their stories are so intriguing.”
Ecumen honors our dedicated social workers, who make life better for our residents every day.