National Social Work Month: The social worker role

Laura Sorenson
Laura Sorenson

by Laura Sorenson, Veterans Memorial Hospital Social Worker
Social workers perform a variety of roles, but their primary job is to connect members of the community with resources that may be beneficial to them. Specifically, a hospital social worker works as a discharge planner to help elderly or disabled patients arrange in-home services in an effort for them to remain in their own homes as long as possible. These services may include home health care where nursing and physical therapists come to your home, home-delivered meals, as well as bathing assistance, and housekeeping/shopping services.

If you and your care team decide that you require Skilled Care (aka “short-term rehab”) following a hospitalization or surgical procedure, you can ask for a referral to be made to Veterans Memorial Hospital’s Swing Bed program. Patients sometimes need skilled care for things like physical/occupational/speech therapy or longer-term IV antibiotics, prior to being able to return home. The Veterans Memorial Hospital Swing Bed program can help make your eventual transition home more successful.

If a patient is ready to be discharged from the hospital, but living at home is no longer an option, a social worker can give families direction for pursuing long-term care in senior housing, assisted living or nursing homes.

Social workers can connect children and families with agencies that provide assistance to those in need. They can also provide resources for mental health counseling, medication management and substance abuse programs.

Social workers can also provide assistance with applying for benefits, such as Medicaid, Social Security Disability and SSI, or VA benefits. Social workers can help complete Advance Directives, planning for emergencies or end-of-life.

Feel free to call Veterans Memorial Hospital Social Worker Laura Sorensen at 563-568-3411, Ext. 225 for help for you and your loved ones.