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Q & A – The Role of a Health Center Social Worker

Q & A – The Role of a Health Center Social Worker

The presence of a social worker in health center is essential to the exemplary care of residents and patients. Lora Cochrane, MSW, is the social worker at Woodcrest at Blakeford. Lora took some time to respond to a few questions about her role and its importance to residents and their families.

What is your role as a social worker?
I describe my role to residents and families in one of three ways:
As a good point of contact – I always let families know that if they have a question or concerns that they do not know who to talk to, tell the social worker. I tell them, I may not have all the answers but I can get them for you. I answer questions ranging from “Can I get my toenails trimmed?” to “When am I going home?”

As a resource guide and discharge planner – As a Resource guide and a discharge planner I help connect residents and families to people, companies and services that may be available in the community or while at Woodcrest. I help set up home health or outpatient therapy, work with ordering medical equipment and oxygen for home, set up doctor’s appointments, connect families to caregiver agencies, and respond to any other need or question that may arise.

The vast majority of residents and family members do not understand that discharge planning starts when they first come through the doors. It can be a shock to mention discharge on the first day of someone’s stay. I try to encourage residents and families to think ahead about what are the options after Woodcrest.

“Where do I go from here?”

“Will I return home?”

“Will I be safe to return home?”

“Do I need help at home?”

“Do I need to look at alternate placement instead of returning home?”

These are all difficult questions to think about for a lot of people. I strive to make these questions a little easier to answer by providing every resource I can, explaining each option and answering every question.

There are several elements that exist in providing care. Why is it important to work together?
Team work is vital in a health care setting. Residents are not here receiving one service from one discipline, but receiving a community’s worth of care from nursing, therapy, dietary, activities and myself. I have never had a family say to me, “I wish the staff would call me less. I want to be less informed.” It is imperative that each discipline of the healthcare community keep in constant communication in order to ensure the best possible care and outcome for each resident every time.

Why did you choose to work in a health center setting?
I have always loved working with older adults. I am truly humbled by their stories, the lives they have led, and the wisdom many still possess. I see people from all walks of life. I get to watch rehab residents progress and assist them with moving on. I also get to stand with families as they deal with the struggles of an aging loved one. In a health center setting, I only see a glimpse of the novel that is a person’s life and I consider it an honor to get to be a part of their story.