In honor of Social Workers Awareness month in March, we are publishing a series on the tremendous work being done by the social workers and care managers at Seabury.
“As our country changes and shifts with new political leadership, social workers and others in helping professions are needed more than ever to help protect and advocate for our most vulnerable citizens,” says Leslie Mason who has been a care manager in Seabury’s Care Managementprogram for the last 13 years.
[ Picture Name/description/Date] Leslie didn’t set out to become a social worker. Instead, she started her post-college career as a teacher. It was at school where she was introduced to social work and realized how much a student’s home environment could affect their education. Leslie realized that she could have a greater impact working as a social worker and went back to school to get her master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland. While working as a social worker in a hospital setting, Leslie was introduced to Geriatric Care Management which immediately appealed to her. The difference is “in a hospital it seems like you are putting a bandaid on and hoping for the best, whereas in geriatric social work you see the progression and the difference you make.”
One of the most important aspects of being a Care Manager is the personal connection that is built with clients. Leslie explains, “when you get to know someone really well you can advocate more effectively.” This personal connection can especially be seen in one client Leslie has had since 2004. For this person, she coordinates 24 hour-a-day, 7 days-a-week caregiving with four caregivers. In addition, she coordinates all payments, property needs, and even feeding for the client’s cat. Recently, her client’s apartment became infested with bed bugs so Leslie had to schedule bed bug removal for her and all caregivers homes, as well. Her client’s guardians have said that she would not be alive today if not for Leslie’s care and expertise.
One of the most important benefits of being on Seabury’s Care Management team is the depth of institutional knowledge and support that Leslie has access to inside and outside the office. It is this sharing of knowledge that shows the depth of compassion these professional have not only for their clients but for their community. “A co-worker reached out to the team yesterday as her church is sponsoring a refugee family from Afghanistan and she was looking for free/low-cost dental resources for this family,” Leslie said. “So many on the team offered resources and direct support for this. This happens all the time – we all throw out questions about our elderly neighbors, family members, community members to tap into the vast expertise this group of care managers have. Also for family members of our clients.”
As a full-time parent, as well as a Care Manager, the flexibility in schedule is an added benefit, Leslie said. Leslie said that “truly the best job I have had is social work. At Seabury, we have the most supportive group of people to work with. You know that you have an obligation to the agency and not just your clients as everyone helps out.”
Aging is a long process and, as with anything else, requires careful planning. One piece of advice Leslie would like to share is to “really plan in advance for aging. Look into long-term care. Put in place decisions [now] … Plan for next steps so they are not painful. It’s not cheap to age, the sticker shock can be overwhelming.”