How social work can help LTC homes now and post Covid-19

On Wednesday October 6th, long-term care Minister Rod Phillips announced that there will be more funding for the hiring of additional staff for LTC homes in Ontario. When watching his announcement, I noticed very quickly that the staff he is referring to were nurses and PSW’s. Both do fantastic work and are incredibly needed in the LTC sector.

Looking at this from a social work perspective, I am concerned about the severe lack of social workers within LTC sector. I am reminded of the lack of respect the profession has when compared to other vocations like doctors and other medical staff. The brand social work is very abstract to many people and understandably so. Social work has many levels and identities.

Covid-19 shocked the world, ruined the lives of many families and has burned out many workers. I think the Canadian government needs to look into social work as a critical asset when hiring on more staff. Social workers are capable of sitting down, listening and validating resident, family and staff’s feelings. We are able to work with anyone involved in the LTC sector and assist them with communication, building relationships and conflict resolution.

People who fall underneath the umbrella of LTC are in a lot of pain. Many residents are lonely, many staff just don’t have the motivation and families are in need of advocates. Social workers can step in and guide the way to a better form of LTC. One that allows PSW’s to do the work, create relationships and not feel so much pressure to do everything at once.

Social Workers can work with organizations to create better protocols and policies that make everyone feel safe and happy. Social workers can spot mental health issues among residents and teach coping mechanisms.

Most importantly, I think the best place social workers fit is counselling. Covid-19 was and continues to be traumatic for people. With little to no empathy or assistance coming from the Canadian government, staff feel stuck, unheard and ultimately end up leaving. I feel like taking the time to really listen to PSW’s, nurses, LTC staff and others can really benefit everyone in the long run.

Moving forward, I hope the Canadian government will see the value in social work. I hope to see more of us in LTC homes talking to people and really getting their voices heard. Social workers are advocates, listeners and determined people who want what is best for others.

There needs to be more of us in there so that staff, residents and families can be reassured that someone is listening and advocating for what is right.

Author: E.R. (FCO Placement Student)