Do You Know A Humble Social Worker?

Curated article about holding the proper attitude in the profession, getting one kind or another degree in social work, and various social work programs:

By Melinda Thomas

Wow. This world is full of double standards, where something is good for one person but not good for another person. I believe that one of the largest and most outrageous double-standards that there is is the event in which families, patients and residents of medical centers, rehab centers and hospitals have to deal with social workers who think that they are the only ones who have lives.

Let me explain in a clearer way. Usually what happens is that when it is ready - or even before it is time--for a patient to be discharged or transferred from one place to another, the social worker, the discharge planning social worker, tries to get in touch with the family members. The social worker calls once, and if there is no answer to the phone or if someone does not call the social worker right back, immediately, that social worker usually calls again, right away. Or they will call another family member instead of waiting for the original to return the call. So what is the double standard? It is clearly this. If you, a family member or a resident or patient tries to get any information from the social worker or doctors, usually you can wait and wait and wait, and you can wait days if not weeks for such information. And the information you are seeking is information that you are entitled to have.

So, you wait and wait and wait. You wait for meals; you wait for information, you wait to have sheets changed and you wait to have your wounds wrapped and you wait and wait and wait and wait. And then finally you wait MORE. Now this is no exaggeration. Ask any patient in any medical center and they will tell you that you just wait.

And, here is where the double standard comes in. Once the discharge planner needs to speak with you, they will not and do not wait even an hour. They expect to hear from you immediately and sooner than immediately. They expect that you are waiting by the telephone--after doing all the other waiting, and you are just sitting there by the phone waiting for them to call you. Most people are not doing that. Most people are at work or at school or are in the restroom or are in the shopping market or are somewhere that they cannot get to the phone right away. Yet, usually , the discharge planner social workers can not and will not wait --even though they have previously asked you to wait and wait and wait, their double standard is that they do not expect to wait for anything.

I suggest that patients and families remind social workers that even if the social worker has the family's cellular phone number that this phone is just like the house phone in that no one is sitting there waiting for a call. Remind them that the phone is not always on, but is sometimes off because it needs to be charged. And reassure the social worker that someone will get back to them the very same day that they call you. Better yet, when you give a cellular phone number to anyone at the hospital or nursing homes, just tell them it is another number to reach you at. It is not their business whether that is a cellular phone or not. When you tell them that it is a cellular phone, they demand that you answer all the time -- even when you are not at the phone or even when you do not have the phone with you. And when they call your cellular phone they expect and demand that you answer it immediately.

So, especially if you are dealing with social workers inside of offending nursing homes or nursing homes that give inadequate or bad care, never tell anyone which number is a cellular number and which is not a cellular. That will work better for you, especially if you do not use a cellular like a cellular --having it with you all the time.

It just makes plain good sense, to make it clear to social workers that your time is just as valuable as their time is. And just like they are not always at their phone, you too, are not always at the phone.

So, in summary,

When giving telephone numbers to reach you at just give the home number and an alternate number, not designating either as a cellular phone.
Instruct them that when you are out, in the restroom or in the tub, you will not be answering the telephone but that they should leave a fully detailed message for you and you will get back to them as soon as you can.
Always keep in touch with them, with the discharge planner, or the social worker who will be in charge of planning the discharge and with the main doctor on the case. If you cannot reach them for considerable amounts of time, consider contacting the patient representatives and or the administrators, but only for very important items.
Remember that you, the patient, and the family , together are in charge of health matters, not the workers in the nursing homes and not the social workers. Most times, the discharge planners have attitudes of telling you what to do and they act and speak as if you have no choices. Always know what your choices are because these people, when in a hurry to discharge someone, most likely will not tell you all of your choices.
Those are the beginnings of being able to handle and understand what happens when it comes to having someone in the hospital or staying in the hospital yourself or visiting or staying inside a bad rehabilitation and care center. There is so much more that you need to know to protect you, the patient and the family and visitors. So keep reading these articles are they are updated and as I write more articles regarding the same subject.
Updated May 10, 2008

This article will be continued in Part Two at a later date.. Kindly note that most social workers are wonderful and most do a great job. When I write these articles they are in reference to a small handful of social workers who feel that they are above the families and patients. This handful of social workers act as if they believe their time is so much more valuable than patients' or families' time. In actuality, the families' and patients' time is just as valuable as the social workers' time and patients just need to remind the social workers of that.

In Part Two, I will write about how to handle communications with a social worker who is especially aggressive or especially obnoxious.

Melinda Thomas is an author who has read and studied psychology for many years. And has attended courses in one of the largest cities in America. She invites your comments, ideas and suggestions regarding any of the topics that she writes about.

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