About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?
Essay response by Paige Henige, Saginaw State University
Working to improve the lives of people is a top priority for a social worker. Social workers work with the public to help individuals, groups, families and organizations find ways to help themselves and improve their living conditions. We advocate, educate, facilitate, mediate, negotiate and coordinate for the greater good of the population.
When it comes to working with the senior population, social workers are of great importance. Our ability to understand what our seniors may be going through and listen to what he or she is trying to say really helps to get our elders the care they need. Social workers have a desire to provide their clients with exactly what he or she needs in order to live out the rest of their life with integrity.
The greatest role a social worker can take on for the senior population is an advocate. When elders are not receiving the right care or are being treated poorly social workers will speak out on their behalf to promote fair and equitable treatment. We will advocate to gain needed resources work to accomplish any job we start. The role a social worker takes as a broker is also important in helping seniors receiving in-home care services. Seniors may need help with obtaining emergency food or housing, legal aid or other resources. Brokers will help to find these resources for his or her client and will bring together different community groups or organizations in order to help seniors get what is needed.
When working with the senior population every value under the social work profession applies: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence. With the value of service the social workers primary goal is to help seniors in need and address any social problems. We will challenge any social injustice seniors may be receiving. The most important value, in my opinion, for improving the lives of in-home care for seniors is to make sure society respects the inherent dignity and worth of the person. Obtaining human relationships is very important to many seniors because when reflecting on life it is not the material things that will matter, it is the relationships one develops over the years that will stay. Trust is by far an important value when working to improve the lives of seniors receiving in home care. If one is not trusted it would be very hard to help those in need. And finally, having the competence to work with our seniors is important to both the social worker and the patient. Knowledge of how to find help, treat, and advocate for the senior population is vital.
Currently I am a junior in the social work program as SVSU. I recently got the opportunity to do a simulation focusing on elderly care. I had to put myself in the shoes of a senior suffering from poor vision, Alzheimer’s, dementia as well as other health problems. I was assigned to a care giver who was told to treat me poorly. Reflecting on this experience made me realize what many seniors go through on a daily basis. It really bothered me knowing that there are people out there who are treating our seniors in such an awful manner. The social worker in me wanted to go out and advocate to make sure every senior is receiving the proper care he or she needs. Too often we overlook what is really going on behind the scenes of in-home care because the patient may be incapable of telling someone.
Social work is an area of study that many people do not quite know how to figure out. It takes a lot of patience, understanding, knowledge and listening skills. If there is anything that I have learned through my education in social work so far, it is that the main goal is to help people in need. It is our duty to act as educators, advocates, brokers, negotiators, coordinators and so much more in order to improve the lives of people who may be struggling or going through hard times. I feel that the roles, values and ethical principles of the social work profession would be the best solution to reach out to in order to improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services.
Paige is a junior at Saginaw Valley State University, pursuing a master’s in social work. She is involved in the NSLS (National Society of Leadership and Success), NASW (National Association of Social Work) and SSWO (Student Social Work Organization).