Do social workers come to mind when you think of long-term care?
Personal support workers and nurses are two commonly associated roles with long-term care. Many people may not automatically think of social workers, but they are a critical part of the team caring for residents. March is National Social Work Month in Canada and March 14 to March 20 is Social Work Week in B.C.
While hands-on-care, which focuses on residents' health and safety, is a priority in long-term care, social workers look after their social and emotional well-being. Beyond that, social workers support families and caregivers.
Natalie Ehman, is a social worker at Ridgeview Lodge in Brocklehurst.
"We help ensure everyone's voices are being heard and provide wraparound care for residents and families,” said Ehman, who has helped support many families when their loved ones have moved into Ridgeview Lodge.
Drawing on this experience, Ehman shares the three most important tips families should know to help with the transition of moving a loved one into long-term care.
1. Share expectations with the team and discuss how they can make your loved one feel at home
Care planning helps us put in place the steps to help keep residents safe and living their best quality of life. If watching Wheel of Fortune every night at 7 p.m. is an important part of a loved one's routine, we can help maintain consistency. Families feel better when they know their loved one is still getting that comfort and feeling of home after moving.
2. Don't forget about self-care. As much as we prepare, the first few weeks are going to be tough. Social workers are there to help prepare families and put emphasis on self-care during this time. Most importantly, understand that we will get through things together. I encourage family members and caregivers to honour how they feel when a loved one is moving into long-term care. There might be feelings of sadness and relief in knowing their loved one will receive the level of care they need. Take advantage of support groups and counselling. For older couples who been together for decades, this is a huge change and families should be connected with support services in the community. It's not just the person who is moving into long-term care who needs help with the transition. Part of the social worker's role is to wrap that support around the entire family.
3. There's no place like a second home. A caring team will help residents settle into their new home and naturally become an extension of their family, especially at Ridgeview Lodge, where everyone bonds together. I always try to convey to families how much we care for our residents. We see many residents thrive as they ease into their new surroundings. I am so proud to be part of the journey and to be by the family’s side during a time of great change.