Pandemic has highlighted the need for psycho-social support in LTC: social worker

‘Social work provides a more holistic approach to the resident care’

There’s a crucial need for long-term-care home residents to be able to access psycho-social support, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made this clear, says OMNI Health Care social worker Alicia Niewiatowska.

When the pandemic began in March 2020, long-term-care home residents across Canada faced isolation as homes went into lockdown to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

As a result, residents could not visit their loved ones face to face for several months, which had a detrimental impact on many, says Alicia, who has serves the residents of five OMNI homes, Kentwood Park, Rosebridge Manor, Village Green, West Lake Terrace and Woodland Villa.

As such, homes everywhere began to see an increased need for in-house psycho-social support for residents. OMNI, Alicia says, rose to the challenge this year by hiring social workers to serve the residents of their homes.

So, what does a day in the life of a long-term-care home social worker look like?

“It looks different every day,” Alicia tells The OMNIway, adding the variety of tasks that come with her role is her favourite part of the job.

Much of her day may be spent building rapport with residents and their loved ones. She also consults with staff members, especially Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) team members who work with residents experiencing agitation or exhibiting behaviours, to get updates on residents and to provide them with emotional support.

Alicia also spends a good deal of time engaging with a wide range of community partners that run the gamut from geriatric psychiatry professionals to public libraries.

“It’s a mixed bag, for sure,” she says of her job.

What sets social workers apart from other long-term-care home team members is that social workers do not use the medical model of treatment, Alicia says.

“We provide an alternate perspective, that is, at times, very much in contrast to the medical model,” she says.

“Social work provides a more holistic approach to the resident care.”

– This is Part 2 of a four-part story series about the role of social work in OMNI Health Care homes. Click here to read Part 1.

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