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Partnering with a social worker

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Who are social workers? What are their roles and how can they support you in your role?

As a key part of the care team, social workers ensure that the caregiver has all the tools needed to deal with their situation.

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The social worker provides assistance to individuals and communities experiencing difficult, crisis or life situations and sets up options to improve their well-being. Taking into account the environment in which they live, they assess social functioning, develop an intervention plan and ensure its implementation.

Contacting a social worker

The caregiver has to deal with their immediate environment, the community, health professionals, various institutions and government policies. They sometimes find themselves faced with an abundance of resources without knowing which ones correspond to their situation or are simply unaware of the help they can obtain. This is where the social worker can step in and help make sense of the situation.

They seek to meet the needs of the person being helped, but also those of the caregivers so that they can make informed choices. This is accomplished by offering information on protective measures, the functioning of the healthcare network, the services to which caregivers are entitled, as well as assistance during the first few months of adaptation following a difficult event.

Creating links, solving problems

Versatility, creativity and collaboration sum up the strengths of social workers, who are able to seek out information, probe a little further and find resources. Because of their proximity to caregivers and their families, they are able to represent their voice, to become essential spokespersons with teams and other partners.

Social workers in a CHSLD context are also called upon when conflicts arise between the family, the care team and the resident. They then take charge of the mediation and try to better understand the difficulties at hand or the problem encountered in order to orient the approach towards a collective solution.

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I am afraid of being evaluated, of being designated as the main person responsible for my husband’s confusion [with Alzheimer’s disease]. Fear of having stirred up a storm in a glass of water and of being called neurotic.

5 common views about social work

  1. Meeting with a social worker does not mean “big trouble”;
  2. They are not there to judge you;
  3. Getting their support means being with a highly trained professional with university degrees;
  4. It is necessary to be transparent with them so that they can offer the best support possible, this is not always easy when the questions are personal (about finances, for example);
  5. Providing psychosocial support is part of their daily routine.

Tips from a social worker

In an interview with Radio-Canada [in French only] social worker Karine Joly encourages caregivers to take time for themselves. Here are some of her tips:

  • Accept that other people or resources are involved with the person who is being cared for;
  • Plan respite time (such as half-days or weekends);
  • Prioritize some tasks and delegate others;
  • Set aside time for reading, healthy walking and outings;
  • Sleep when the person being cared for is asleep (for example, take a nap);
  • Use community resources;
  • Participate in self-help groups, which promotes sharing and breaks the isolation.

The need for respite—which can mean setting aside time for yourself, recharging, participating in activities, reaching out to others and especially to the CLSC—provides help over the long term.

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