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March is National Social Work Month

Wed, Mar 1st 2017 11:00 am

This month, Social Workers throughout the nation will be recognized during National Social Work Month. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) introduced National Professional Social Work Month for the first time in March 1963. The original purpose was to encourage public support and interest in social work as a profession. The NASW is a professional organization of social workers in the United States. It wasn't until 1984 that the White House officially recognized March as National Professional Social Work Month. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by increased demand for healthcare and social services, but will vary by social worker specialty.

The NASW will commemorate Social Work Month with a "Social Workers Stand Up!" campaign. NASW states that Social workers stand up for millions of people every day. These include people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, our veterans, children, families and communities. Yet many people still misunderstand who social workers are and the invaluable contributions they bring to society. The campaign goal is to educate the public about the contributions of social workers and give social workers tools they can use to elevate the profession. More information is available at http://www.naswdc.org.

In hospice care, social workers are invaluable members of the interdisciplinary team. They work with patients and families to provide emotional support, crisis intervention, and counseling. Living with a terminal condition is a vulnerable and intimate time in not only the patient's life; it effects all family members and caregivers. Social workers facilitate communication. This is especially helpful to families and other caregivers that may refrain from talking about the death to not upset the other party. Providing education and helping to say goodbye prepares family members for the upcoming loss.

Advance directives are documents outlining the wishes of an individual should they become unable to communicate them in the future for themselves. Advance directives include a Health Care Proxy, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will, or Do Not Resuscitate order. Social workers educate about what each of them are as well as facilitate discussion with the patient, family, and hospice team about these important decisions, providing advocacy for patients wishes to be honored.

Hospice social workers provide individual and/or family counseling, as well as supportive health teaching. They provide assistance navigating paper work involved with insurance information and future planning. Social workers also serve as advocates for their patients and help them facilitate goals. Additionally, hospice social workers recognize that the role of caregiver is often difficult, and always vital. Social workers offer resources for family caregivers to help them in this very important role, as well as a listening ear and compassionate heart.

If you know or see a social worker this month, thank them for their service of dedicating their career to helping others. At Niagara Hospice we thank Cassidy Connor, Cheryl Ferguson, Jessica Granchelli, Nicole Lomeo, Samantha Meglin, Heather Moeller, Laurie Stickney, Elizabeth Szwejbka, Alena Tolsma, and Kristen Tonuzi for their dedicated service to Niagara Hospice and Pathways palliative care patients and families.

Since serving its first patient in 1988, Niagara Hospice has served over 25,000 individuals as well as their immediate and extended families. Hospice is specialized care for the terminally ill that includes physical, emotional, spiritual and bereavement care for families. Hospice care is appropriate for any advanced stage illness, not just cancer, where the prognosis is a life expectancy of approximately six months or less. For more information, visit NiagaraHospice.org or call (716) 439-4417.


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