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Understanding the Role of a Social Worker in Healthcare

March 24, 2021 | Blog

According to the National Association of Social Workers “Social work practice consists of the professional application of social work values, principles, and techniques to one or more of the following ends: helping people obtain tangible services; counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups; helping communities or groups provide or improve social and health services; and participating in legislative processes.”

The social workers role is often not as clear as other professions. They support the patient holistically. Spring Hills recognizes this and has done an amazing job keeping the social work teams feeling supported so that they don’t experience compassion fatigue. Hiring a Regional Director of Social Work is just one example of that extra support to make sure our social workers have a strong advocate in their corner.

March is National Social Work Month.  Each year the NASW picks a theme for social work month.  This year the theme is “Social Workers Are Essential” and we couldn’t agree more!  Christa Ciocco Fries, MSW, CALA, CDP and Regional Director of Social Work for Spring Hills Population Health says, “Since last March, senior care has been filled with devastating loss across the industry.  Patients placed in communities have been isolated and without their families or visitors. Patients that are home are confined with limited resources and lack of socialization. As Melanie Sage LCSW, PhD stated in her open letter to Social Workers, “Doctors, nurses, respiratory specialists, and so many other emergency providers show up to save lives, Social workers are there to make life worth living. They provide hope in the midst of loss.”  This is so true, and I see this happening every day from our social work team.

A year ago when patients were dealing with their clinical health concerns, many of which had loved ones at the bedside encouraging and cheering them on. Today, that picture looks different. Patients over the last year have not had that physical touch of a loved one while rehabilitating. They haven’t had the opportunity to speak with a roommate or eat a meal with a fellow patient. The vibrant activities where not what they once were. This added to the heavy lift of our teams to not only address patients’ physical wellbeing, but also and increased need to help manage their mental and emotional health too.

Social workers in our communities and population health have been helping patients work through stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness by providing them with extra support. They have been digging deeper in their discussions to undercover their journey and meet them where they are. They have been supportive and have been showing empathy for the many caregivers and family members who are also experiencing added anxiety, frustration and caregiver burn out. To support them, our teams have been conducting monthly caregivers support groups in hopes of easing stress and providing additional resources to cope with so many changes.

The teams at Spring Hills put in long hours to make sure each and everyone one of our patients have safe and comprehensive discharge plans. They work tirelessly with their interdisciplinary teams and community resources to ensure that every social, clinical and emotional aspect of their care is covered.”

As March closes out, Christa gives this advice, “Take time to ask a social worker, a healthcare worker, your family member, your friend and your neighbor if they are ok! Thank them for their contributions and efforts in getting through this pandemic as a community.”  According to Christa, “It takes a special, selfless individual, to be a social worker and I proud to be one of them.”


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