March is National Social Work Month and a perfect time to recognize the invaluable role social workers play at Kindred Healthcare.

Social Workers Touch Patients’ Lives in Many Ways “Social workers are integral to the care provided to patients,” says Stacey Hodgman, Sr. Director, Care Management. “In order for a patient to truly heal physically, their social and emotional needs must be addressed and in balance with their condition.”

Hodgman explains that social workers are an amazing non-medical resource. At Kindred, social workers serve in a multitude of roles including as case managers and discharge planners. They get to know their patients and take a holistic approach to determine the support systems already in place and what type of assistance they might need when transitioning to home.

For example, social workers will dig deeper to find out if a patient will be able to maneuver the stairs into their home, obtain the medications they need from the pharmacy, and if there are any gaps with their housing, transportation and/or meal preparation needs.

“The time of discharge is when patients are most vulnerable and quickly transition from having full-time medical attention to being on their own. Sometimes we have a patient who doesn’t want to leave the hospital and the staff doesn’t understand why. That’s when a social worker will discover that the patient may have no heat at home or can’t cook for themselves anymore and is embarrassed to tell anyone,” Hodgman adds.

“They also ask questions that others might not think of and are likely to identify if a diabetic patient transitioning to home with a glucometer has the eyeglasses needed to read the values so they don’t self-administer the wrong insulin dose.”

In addition, social workers communicate with insurance companies and provide support for family members as needed. One of their goals is to help patients successfully transition to home with the resources they need to avoid hospital readmission—and, as such, are often one of our patient’s biggest advocates.