March 15, 2022, is World Social Work Day, and Life Care is shining a light on the vital role social workers play in the life of skilled nursing facilities.
Social workers learn about residents’ backgrounds and their preferences to help the facility meet their needs. They listen to residents’ concerns, and they help rehab patients make appropriate plans for discharge, arranging community resources for them as needed. Most of all, they serve as patient advocates.
Thank you to every social worker in our buildings for all you do to help our residents thrive! Here are just a few of the many outstanding social workers we are privileged to work with around the country.
Dillon Noyes, social services designee at Life Care Center of Wichita, Kansas
Dillon started out at Life Care Center of Wichita in July 2020 as a certified nursing assistant. Through the encouragement of his executive director, Matthew Stephenson (who, incidentally, has his bachelor’s degree in social work), Dillon stepped into the social worker role in June 2021.
“He is always willing to do anything that is needed and is thought of very highly by staff for his diligence and determination to help his residents and co-workers,” said Matthew.
“I’m a people person,” Dillon shared. “I like to help people as much as I can, and in this role, I get to see different people every day, help the families and see the smiles on my residents’ faces.”
About social work, he added, “If your heart’s in it and you care about these people, this is the job for you.”
Laurel Simms, social services director at Marysville Care Center in Marysville, Washington
Laurel was working as an executive director at an assisted living facility when she came to Marysville Care Center as an interim social services director and discovered that’s where her passion lay.
“I fell in love with social work,” she shared. “I enjoy helping the residents to meet their maximum potential for life, to live a full life at any age. And it’s a great team here.”
Kyle Oathes, administrator in training, said, “Laurel constantly goes above and beyond to ensure that our residents have an excellent experience with us. She is amazing at communicating with the residents, their family members/decision makers and our team in regards to discharge plans and social service needs, and she is quick to identify and work to overcome barriers as they present themselves. No matter what her workload looks like for the day, Laurel is always able to find time to visit with residents or answer call lights.”
To others considering social work as a career, Laurel said, “You have to be prepared to multitask a lot, but it’s also very fulfilling.”
Lisa Soto, social worker at Darcy Hall of Life Care in West Palm Beach, Florida
Lisa has been a social worker for 20 years and has been at Darcy Hall for just over eight months.
“I have always wanted to help people,” Lisa shared. “I enjoy being an advocate for the residents and of course problem solving. I love everyone I work with; I feel it’s a team environment.”
Not only does she help provide resources for residents and families, but she has volunteered to assist in other departments and even in other Life Care facilities in the area. She also volunteered to conduct new associate orientation when the staff development coordinator was unavailable.
“Lisa is a huge resident advocate, ensuring current and discharged residents receive or have access to available resources,” said Lisa Izquierdo, executive director at Darcy Hall. “She is always giving and takes little in return.”
To others who might be considering a similar career, Lisa Soto advises, “You definitely have to have compassion. It’s a stressful job, but ultimately, you’re taking a burden off of someone else’s shoulders, and that’s very rewarding.”
Natasha Truett, social services director at Life Care Center of Centerville, Tennessee
Natasha has been a social worker for 12 years and has spent 11 of those years at Life Care Center of Centerville, in the community where she grew up. She found her job on Indeed.com.
“I really feel that it was God’s calling that I ended up here,” Natasha said. “I adore the residents and the people I work with – it’s like a family here, and I could not see myself working anywhere else.”
Natasha helped a resident go home that had no local family to assist her. Natasha helped her find a new washer and dryer and even continues to do grocery shopping for the former resident so she can maintain life at home safely.
Beverly Wall, executive director, shared about Natasha, “She is wonderful with the residents, always there to be their advocate when needed. She upholds her ethics in every step she takes for residents and their wishes. They know they can talk to her, and she will listen and assist with whatever they need.”
Patrick Lawson, social services director at Life Care Center of Longmont, Colorado
Patrick started his career in social work in 1998 and worked in youth corrections, mental health and home health before coming to Life Care Center of Longmont.
“I wanted to start working principally with seniors – I really loved hearing their stories,” Patrick shared. He has worked at the facility for more than 15 years now.
“It’s a good community,” Patrick said. “We have a great team of really awesome people.”
Monica Swacha, human resources director at the facility, said, “Patrick has such a calm disposition, which makes residents and families feel at ease during some of the most stressful transitions. Patrick juggles many hats – everything from serving as an advocate for our seniors, coordinating services, diffusing tension, aiding with COVID testing and helping in the dining rooms!”
“I love getting to know the residents and families and getting to know more and more about people,” Patrick said.
Samantha Thomas-Weick, social services assistant at Rivergate Health Care Center in Riverview, Michigan
Samantha joined the Rivergate Health team in 2018 after serving as a substance abuse counselor in Detroit.
“I would describe social work as being a tour guide through life,” Samantha said.
When Samantha was a pre-teen, she suffered a series of strokes due to an undiagnosed hole in her heart. During the last stroke, she felt as if she were dying.
“I made a deal with God that if He would let me live, I would dedicate my life to serving others,” Samantha shared.
After addressing her heart issue, she made good on her promise and has found a good fit for her career.
“I want to thank Life Care for allowing me to have a rewarding position, for providing a good work-life balance,” Samantha said. “I’m able to have a career and also be a mom and wife.”
Michelle Peeper, executive director at Rivergate Health Care Center, shared, “Samantha is someone you can count on for difficult conversations being made just a little bit easier. She is there to hold residents’ and families’ hands or give a shoulder to cry on when needed.”
To others considering a career in senior-care social work, Samantha advises, “Never stop thinking outside the box. Be excited. Be tenacious.”