OMNI social worker recalls how helping a resident self-advocate changed their home experience

‘The experience of self-advocating really did wonders for the resident’

During the five months she has been a social worker at five OMNI Health Care long-term care homes, Alicia Niewiatowska has provided many interventions that have helped enhance residents’ home experience, but there’s one that stands out in her mind.

A resident at one of the homes Alicia works with was struggling with mental-health issues exacerbated by isolation during the pandemic. As a result, the resident began experiencing agitation that led to behaviours.

Front-line staff members were working hard to help the resident, but they were struggling to provide the needed supports.

Alicia was brought in to meet with the resident and provide interventions, one of which was helping the resident voice concerns they had, and empower the resident to take some control over their situation.

Alicia encouraged the resident to write a letter to the home’s administrator to explain their concerns. Alicia also supported the resident when they met with the administrator to get their perspective known.

“The experience of self-advocating really did wonders for the resident,” Alicia tells The OMNIway.

“The intervention of being able to speak up, to be heard, to be autonomous, and to have that agency over their own experience and their own residency in the home, that, in and of itself, really eliminated 80 per cent of (the issues) the resident was having.”

OMNI began rolling out a social worker program in many of its seniors’ homes earlier this year. Alicia says this initiative is not only innovative and fills a needed gap by addressing residents’ psycho-social needs, it is also alleviating pressure on front-line staff members who would otherwise be called to help.

Alicia says staff members approached her to say that after this intervention, the resident’s quality of life – and outlook – improved. The resident didn’t need medical intervention, they needed a psycho-social intervention, and that’s where an in-house social worker can help, she adds.

“That was a great success,” she says.

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