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National Social Work Month

Mar 01, 2024 | by Nanette McLain, LCSW, MPA, Vice President of Behavioral Health, Courtney Pittman, MSW, LCSW-A, Social Worker

March is National Social Work month, creating an opportunity to not only recognize the contributions of social workers but also increase awareness regarding the profession including the ethical standards by which social workers deliver interventions. The primary responsibility of social workers is to promote the well-being of those they work with. Additionally, they have a responsibility to respect and promote self-determination, assisting individuals in identifying and clarifying goals.  At ConcertoCare, social workers are a core member of the interdisciplinary team ensuring the care delivered integrates medical, behavioral, and social needs while aligning that care with the wishes and values of our patients, promoting well-being and self-determination.  

One such example is Ms. J, a 70-year female with multiple chronic conditions including diabetes and major depressive disorder.  Ms. J is the primary caregiver of her husband.   She has frequent falls, struggles with maintaining a complex medication regime and has begun to experience increased depression and caregiver burnout.  A referral for behavioral health interventions was sent to a ConcertoCare social worker.  Recognizing her role in promoting well-being and self-determination, the social worker met Ms. J where she was at on her health care journey.  

Though behavioral health medications were recommended, Ms. J was not yet ready to consider this.  The social worker therefore deployed interventions that she was amenable to, including behavioral activation, a structured therapeutic approach to helping individuals engage in activities that are fulfilling and promote small changes in day-to-day life. The social worker and Ms. J explored activities such as spending more time with family and engaging in spiritual practices including involvement with her church.  The social worker continued to provide psychoeducation to Ms. J regarding the benefits of behavioral health care and medications. In time, and through these social work interventions, Ms. J accepted recommendations from her medical providers and began an anti-depressant medication.  With improved self-management skills and medications, Ms. J is now reporting a reduction in depressive symptoms.  She has increased her engagement in medical care and has developed new skills as she navigates not only her health care journey but the challenges that come with being a primary caregiver.  

Social workers are a valuable member of the interdisciplinary team.  Their subject matter expertise in behavioral health interventions along with a care team of health care providers, nurse care managers, community health workers and pharmacists, creates an opportunity to improve health care outcomes through an integrated model that is holistic and provides the best care for individuals managing complex needs.  Throughout the month of March and beyond, consider opportunities to involve social workers in improving the health care journey for others.