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 Brea Vance, University of Minnesota-Duluth

As a social work student, I have learned that there are several ways in which social workers can improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services.  First, as a social worker working in in-home care, it is important to visit individuals in their homes in order to ensure they are in a safe living condition.  Often, individuals receiving in-home care can be isolated or vulnerable.  It is the job of the social worker to assess every situation, make sure each individual is receiving adequate care, and advocate for change if an individual’s needs are not being properly met.  Social workers do what they can to empower their clients and provide them with hope and change when needed.

Second, as a social worker in an in-home setting, it is important to fill the role of educator.  Often times individuals may not know about the majority of programs and services available to them.  In these situations, it is extremely helpful for social workers to provide education to their clients regarding opportunities for additional resources and services.  These may be additional services they can have in their homes, or other programs or services they are able to access outside of the home.  Without the assistance and additional information provided by social workers, many individuals, receiving in-home care, would not be able to continue to live safely in their own homes.

Next, when a social worker works in an in-home care setting, he or she is able to assess if additional services would be beneficial, talk with the client about those services, and if the client is in agreement, make referrals for such services.  In many instances, the services that social workers are able to make referrals for allow individuals to stay out of care facilities and remain living in their own homes as long as possible.  Many individuals prefer to remain living independently instead moving to a care facility or moving in with a relative.  When social workers set up resources within the home and make additional referrals when necessary, they help to make living at home a possibility for their clients.

Last, as a social worker in an in-home care setting, it is important to assess the well being of clients.  Often times, when an individual is able to continue living in his or her own home and remain as independent as possible, it significantly increases that individuals well being and sense of self-worth.  However, this is not always the case.  In some instances, individuals living in their own homes may feel isolated and depressed.  As the social worker, it is important to gauge these feelings in order to provide proper care to each client individually.  As the social worker in an in-home setting, it is also important to monitor client behavior for significant changes that may be the result of a poor sense of self-worth.  In some instances, it is important to make referrals for further care if it would be beneficial for the client.

Social workers play a significant role in in-home care.  Depending on the specific client, each situation is different.  It is extremely important to keep an open mind and enter each situation with a willingness to help.  A social worker can make a large impact on the lives of his or her clients, through advocacy and empowerment.  Without social workers, in-home care would be entirely different and less effective as a whole.

About Brea

Brea is currently a graduate student at the University of Minnesota- Duluth, in Duluth, Minnesota, pursuing a master’s degree in social work.

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