I recently asked a dozen people to say the first thing that popped into their heads when I said “social worker.” Not surprisingly, I got a dozen different answers: collaborative, compassionate, empowering, highly qualified, perceptive; building resilience, helping families, problem solving; advocate, counselor, educator; and coping skills.
At CaringKind, we are blessed with a staff that includes 18 licensed social workers who are the embodiment of those terms.Their knowledge and expertise touch every aspect of our services. From our educational programming and support groups to our counseling services and 24-hour Helpline, their training and skill set CaringKind apart from any other local organization working in the field of dementia care.
Not too long ago, I had a visit from a young woman – well educated, professional and articulate. She thought she could care for her mother all by herself. But being a dementia caregiver was much tougher than she had expected. When she called me, she was at a breaking point and needed help. After hearing her story, I suggested that she speak with one of our social workers. She was not receptive and asked, “What can a social worker possibly do for me?” I suggested that she give it a try and see how she felt after the first meeting.
Fast forward a few months. I ran into this same woman at CaringKind as she was coming from a meeting with her social worker. As she hugged me, she said, “You were right. I feel like a different person. I have someone to help me consider the decisions I have to make. My mother and I are both in a better place. I am so thankful that I listened to you.”
People who don’t understand the role of a social worker in the context of dementia care may not initially appreciate the value they will add. But we have over 30 years of experience listening to thousands of clients thank our social workers for getting them through the most difficult time of their lives. We say, “If you’ve met one family dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you’ve met one family dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.” Our social workers know that good dementia care must be customized, personalized.
In this issue of the newsletter, to help you better understand how clients work with our social workers, we’ve created a fictional family and we’ll follow them as they take advantage of CaringKind’s programs to provide the best care for their families and themselves. This is a fictional family, not your family or mine. At CaringKind, we know that each family has different needs, circumstances, cultural backgrounds and problems.
The truth is, no matter who you are, social workers make an enormous contribution to your peace of mind and quality of life when you are caring for someone with dementia. They help you communicate better with the person with the disease. They teach you how to interview and find the right home care worker. They counsel you as you decide on the best long-term care facility as the end of life nears. They help you understand and accept your own feelings. They give you the tools you need to survive.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you, our clients, as you are counseled by our social workers, participate in our programs and services and take advantage of our resources, all free of charge. Until then, I ask you to join me in celebrating our social workers and the work they do to make our lives better each day!
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