By Olivia Saric, Social Work Placement Student
As I reach the end of my placement with Family Councils Ontario I think it is important to reflect on my journey and share what I’ve have learned.
I have spent 8 months and a total of 500 hours at Family Councils Ontario as a social work placement student. My journey with FCO has been eye opening and has served to center my future practice. In truth, I feel that I have discovered a diamond in the rough. FCO serves over 600 Long Term Care homes in Ontario. They engage Family Councils and caregivers to develop and enhance LTC. This small but mighty organization has time and time again shown me their strong commitment towards LTC. Their dedication has inspired me to focus my future work in gerontology.
At the beginning of my placement matching process I requested to be placed at a frontline agency. At the time I was interested in working in hospice and palliative care. On my first day at FCO I was greeted by both Samantha and Lorraine and put to task learning about Family Councils and their role in LTC. Initially I felt apprehensive about working with FCO. I was accustomed to working in frontline organizations and the work I was exposed to at FCO proved to be a very different from which I was used to. However, slowly but surely I was introduced to a world that is often overlooked yet, has much to offer. The world of ageing is one that our youth oriented society is hesitant to address and acknowledge. As I became exposed to the experience of caregiving and ageing I quickly saw that despite its rather lackluster exterior LTC is saturated with rich knowledge, dedicated professionals and passionate caregivers. Underlying all this was an immeasurable dedication to human dignity throughout the ageing process.
Family Councils Ontario sincerely gave me the opportunity to learn about the the world of LTC, to meet Family Council members, caregivers, staff, agency representatives and be part of amazing projects. I was welcomed with open arms and given the time and space to develop as a social worker. I was given the opportunity to work on projects including the Literacy in Long Term Care Project, Facilitation workshop, attend conferences, work on grants, and develop educational materials and programming. I have come to understand the important role FCO plays within the community and the many contributions it makes to LTC. FCO is dedicated to sustaining autonomous Family Councils and giving a voice to caregivers within LTC.
After this experience I have come to realize that LTC is where I want to focus my future practice. It has made an everlasting impression on both my personal and professional life. I hope to attain my masters degree in social work and return to the field as a geriatric clinical social worker.
I am beyond grateful to Family Councils Ontario for a such a wonderful journey. I look back at my time spent with FCO with joy and look forward to a wonderful future in Long Term Care.