WEAVING THREADS OF RESILIENCY AND ADVOCACY
March is National Social Work Month
Cheryl Ferguson, BSW, MSW
Niagara Hospice Social Worker
Throughout the United States there are over 650, 000 social workers helping millions of people find their strengths and develop the self advocacy they need to navigate life's challenges. Social work directly addresses the increased demand for health care navigation, mental health services, family care giving, child development, and veterans' assistance. In what is considered to be one of the fastest growing professions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2020 there will be over 800,000 professionally trained social workers providing services in the United States.
To raise awareness of the profession, the White House officially recognized March as National Professional Social Work Month in 1984. This year's Social Work Month theme, "Weaving Threads of Resilience and Advocacy," reminds us that each day social workers help people of all ages and from all walks of life find their own threads of courage, strength and determination, and help them learn how to weave those threads into a fabric of hope. From 1931 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jane Addams to 1994 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Dorothy I. Height, social work pioneers have been instrumental in advancing civil rights and human rights policies in America. Today, social work professionals continue to influence and improve services in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, businesses, military branches, government, and thousands of non-profit and community organizations across the country including hospices.
As part of the team of comfort care providers in hospice, we know that when a person has a terminal illness the family and care giving system are impacted as well. There are often more concerns than symptom management for the patient and family. The role of the hospice social worker is to work with patients and families as they address emotional issues that arise, helping them rediscover their strengths and providing supportive counsel to help them cope with the stress of a terminal illness and death.
Whether it's assisting with practical planning for advance directives, giving patients and families the information they need to successfully access complex health care systems, wading through a sea of insurance forms to answer questions, talking to the family about their loved one's final wishes, discussing caregiver challenges and providing tools to help cope, facilitating nursing home placement when needed, and finally, helping families cope with the loss of their loved ones - hospice social workers are invaluable sources of information for the whole family.
For more information about Social Work Month 2013 or the social work profession, visit SocialWorkers.org. For more information about hospice care, call Niagara Hospice at 439-4417 or visit NiagaraHospice.org.