How Can Social Workers Navigate Long-Term Care Without Losing Track

Professional social workers have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to the long-term care of patients, especially in residential care facilities. From marketing to orientating; advocacy to advanced-care planning, the role of the social worker is vast. With so many responsibilities, it can be difficult for even the most professional and dedicated social worker to stay on track. Here are five ways that can help those social workers in the long-term care field keep moving in a forward motion:

 1. Know Your Responsibilities

Before you can hope to be an effective professional within your facility, you must know exactly what your responsibilities are. According to the National Associate of Social Workers, these responsibilities may include case management and care coordination, advocacy, mediation, crisis intervention, prevention and assessment of elder abuse, and enhancement of medication compliance. With all of these hats, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. If your exact duties haven’t been clearly laid out for you, speak with your administrator about his or her expectations of you.

2. Find a Mentor

Finding a mentor within the field is important, especially if you are newly licensed or new to elder care. NASW research has shown that those social workers servicing the elderly population face greater challenges and fewer agency supports than social workers in other fields. Rather than waiting until you become overwhelmed, find and seek out someone in the same profession who is willing to act as your mentor. This person can give you valuable advice when it comes to balancing your case load and your personal life in order to find satisfaction in both.

3. Seek Training

Last station nursing homeWith a high case load, you may feel as though you don’t have time for yourself, let alone continuous education. While that may be true, continuing education is always a good idea. Through education, you can learn better methods for balancing your caseload, staying on track and making sure that all of your clients are serviced to the best of your ability. Your facility administrator or direct supervisor should be your first resource in locating this type of education.

4. Stay Organized

If you don’t know how to get organized and stay organized, you have no hope of staying on track when it comes to providing long-term care for elderly residents. It may be in your best interest to ultimately hire a professional organizer who can whip your office, and your books, into shape. It may seem like going overboard, but if you weren’t born with the ability to organize, having a professional show you the ropes can help you tremendously.

5. Relieve Stress

Can relieving your own stress help you stay on track? The answer is “absolutely.” When you become overly stressed, your emotions carry over into both your professional life and your personal one. No one can honestly tell you that social work isn’t stressful. Whether you seek out therapy or pick up a new hobby, look for ways that you can de-stress and unwind. The calmer your mind, the better able you will be to serve those in your care.

Elder care is one of the most stressful positions that any social worker can take. It’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed and off track. If you feel yourself slipping, follow the tips above; it’s not only you that will benefit, but your clients as well.

Author Robert Neff believes long term care is one of the most rewarding sectors of health care. Click here to find out how to enter into this field of healthcare.

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