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Social Work in Healthcare

Social Work in Healthcare

Mar. 2nd, 2022

Photo, left to right: Olivia Bridges and Julie Lay

Social work is a field dedicated to helping people and working to meet the needs of others. Social work is an important aspect of the healthcare industry because some individuals require assistance to make decisions. Often times, social workers are the advocates for the individuals they work with.

To learn more about social work in the healthcare field, we talked to two of Saber Healthcare’s social workers: Julie Lay and Olivia Bridges.

Lay is the Director of Social Services at Grey Stone Health and Rehabilitation in Indiana.

“I love working with the residents and hearing their stories. I enjoy being one of the reasons they have a smile on their face,” Lay stated.

Bridges is the Director of Social Services at Autumn Care of Suffolk in Virginia.

“My favorite part about my job is working with residents and families, and making sure we are meeting their needs and expectations,” Bridges shared. “It’s definitely rewarding.”

How Did You Get to Where You Are Today?

Lay and Bridges shared a little bit about their background and how they got into social work in the healthcare field.

“I’ve always been in the medical field,” Lay stated. “I worked in the hospital for years. I saw a population that would come in and didn’t have anyone to speak on their behalf.”

Lay discussed how she became a case manager in the emergency department. She went to school for her bachelor’s degree in behavioral health, then went back to school for her master’s in social work.

“I got into social work because I knew in high school that I wanted to make an impact on people – the youth originally,” Bridges shared. “I wanted to be someone they can talk to – that kind of person and comfort for them.”

Bridges shared that she worked at the YMCA with children shortly after grad school, and then decided to apply for a role in long-term care. She said she enjoys working with seniors.

What Does a Normal Day in Your Role Look Like?

Bridges and Lay shared what a normal day looks like for them as social workers in long-term care.

They both mentioned their days involve communicating with others during clinical meetings, family meetings, and new admissions.

 “If there’s ever a day I come in and I have nothing to do, something is wrong. We always have tasks that need to be done,” Bridges said.

“Any day is super busy,” Lay shared. “I always check in with the residents as far as their psychosocial wellbeing. I make sure their needs are being met, and provide resources they may need outside of our community when discharged home.”

Bridges mentioned that before COVID-19, they would meet in groups and have discussion. They also made sure to keep in touch with family members that could not come in to visit. Another change is wearing masks and how that could possibly affect communication.

Why is Social Work Important in Healthcare?

“In healthcare, everyone needs someone with a voice, especially in long-term care when they have dementia and can’t make those decisions anymore,” Lay stated. “It’s important to have someone advocate for them and their needs.”

“I think what we do is important because we are the communication between residents, families, and staff,” Bridges said. “We are the advocate they need when something needs to be changed.”

What is One Positive Experience You’ve Had Recently?

We asked Bridges and Lay to share a positive experience they’ve had recently within their jobs.

“I would say being able to help someone every day is a positive experience,” Bridges said. “If someone is struggling, even if it’s something minor – just being that person that is there for them really goes a long way. It’s the simple things you do for residents and families that makes them so happy.”

“I think being able to be with the residents daily is positive,” Lay shared. “Being a part of their life, their home, and making sure they have everything they need – that’s always a positive feeling when you leave here.”

What is One Challenge You’ve Overcome Recently?

Lay and Bridges also discussed some of the challenges they’ve had to overcome recently.

“After being on lockdown during COVID-19 for a year, families were finally allowed back in,” Lay said. “We’ve had many challenges with COVID, and I’ve worked with families through these problems.”

“I just recently transitioned to working in Virginia, and trying to understand all the different rules and policies is a difficult process,” Bridges shared. “It’s been a challenge but I’m still learning.”

Advice for Aspiring Social Workers

After gaining some experience in social work and in healthcare, Bridges and Lay had some great advice to share for those considering going into the same field.

“You have to love people and love what you do,” Bridges stated. “It can become overwhelming at times for a social worker in any field. It is a lot of work, but it’s needed. If you’re looking to be an advocate and help people, then this is the job for you.”

“Always keep an open mind,” Lay said. “Work with compassion, especially in long-term care, because that’s what they need.”

Saber Healthcare Appreciates Our Social Workers

Thank you to Lay, Bridges, and all our other social workers for the work you do daily. We appreciate the time and dedication you show to our residents. Join us in celebrating National Social Work Month, and thank a social worker if you get the chance.

To learn more about Saber Healthcare and the services we provide, click here.

Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.