Our social work team is made up of the most compassionate and caring people we know and they make a huge impact on our patient’s lives. Some may not realize the importance of social workers in the home care field, but they help connect our patients with important resources and programs.
Meet Cassondra and Rachel, two of our Medical Social Workers! They have been gracious enough to provide us a closer look at what their position consists of. For both Cassondra and Rachel, social work is a natural career choice for them because they have always been drawn to helping people. An “average” day can consist of making visits to home health & hospice patients where they complete the appropriate psychosocial assessments, educate about resources, and make necessary referrals for their patient. No two days are ever the same.
Cassondra has always felt that she has been drawn toward the helping profession. While growing up, she thought she would become a teacher. Throughout her life experiences she ultimately determined that teaching was not for her and realized that social work was her calling. Cassondra grew as a social worker while completing hands on internships in a few different fields. She interned with Berks Visiting Nurse Association for 7 months while she was studying for her master’s degree in social work and formally joined our team in June of 2017. Cassondra serves as a medical social worker for both our Berks VNA and Visiting Nurse Association of Pottstown & Vicinity (VNAP). She has the opportunity to serve in home health, hospice and bereavement services as well as assists her colleague, Rachel, with a grant program that helps homebound individuals in Chester County.
Rachel has always had an interest in helping others to help themselves. She is naturally very empathetic and intuitive, two very important qualities to have in this profession. She has extensive experience in in social work and has worked in this field since 2009. Rachel came to our team in February of 2016. Rachel serves as a Medical Social Worker for VNAP.
While there can be many challenges that impact a social workers ability to serve individuals, our team works hard to overcome these challenges so patients can have the best quality of life possible. There are times when our clients have a need but resources to assist them are obsolete or the waiting list can be months or even years. Healthcare and social work are always quickly evolving, which means there is a constant need to learn. While learning new things is great and allows us to provide the best quality of care, it can present some challenges too. Resources and programs have eligibility requirements that change frequently. This can present a challenge when trying to refer patients to a program they need and then figure out they do not qualify. In these instances, it can be tough to find alternative types of care. Home Health is designed to be short term, so our social workers are rarely informed if the referrals made truly benefit the clients’ needs.
Within hospice services, the need for resources is not as prevalent as it is in home health services. With hospice, rapport is built to establish a therapeutic relationship to being providing supportive counseling and necessary end of life education to the patient and their family. While hospice work can be very sad, challenging and heartbreaking, it can also be very rewarding. Cassondra takes on her hospice role as an opportunity to focus on life rather than on death. She feels very fortunate to be able walk beside a patient and their family and witness grace, courage, strength, compassion and patience. She loves having the opportunity to hear and honor her patients’ stories.
Despite the challenges, the positive outcomes always outweigh the negative. Our social workers favorite part of their work is assisting clients in obtaining the appropriate resources to meet their needs as well as watching them succeed and meet their goals. There are many instances where clients are unaware of the types of resources that are available to them. Our social workers take on the role of educating them and beginning the process of utilizing those resources so they can improve the well-being of their clients. It is very rewarding for our social workers to work together with a variety of professionals to better serve their clients and help them improve their quality of life.
Cassondra, Rachel and the rest of our social work team have many different resources that they refer to. Here are just a few that they rely on based on the needs of the patient:
- Obtaining transportation, both public such as Barta, TransNet, PART, Rover, and volunteer such as Diakon, Western Berks Shepherding Ministries, RSVP and Project Hearth.
- Connecting to the local Area Agency on Aging for caregiving services.
- Assisting in applying for government benefits such as Medical Assistance, SNAP, or Cash Assistance.
- Volunteer Services.
- Meals on Wheels.
- Receiving counseling for Medicare Services.
- Educating/Assisting in applying for energy assistance programs such as LIHEAP and Dollar Energy Funds.
- Educating/Assisting in applying for prescription assistance programs such as PACE and PACE NET.
- Education about personal emergency response systems or medical alert pendants.
- Grant programs for home maintenance.
- Caregiver Services
They will also provide education to about certain things such as funeral homes for final arrangements, nursing homes for long term care, power of attorney documents or living wills and subsidized housing, and local churches for spiritual support.
Rachel & Cassondra are just two members of our incredible team of social workers. They, like most in their career field, find their job to be extremely rewarding. People in this career field truly make a positive difference to so many people.