VNSNY social workers provide services to a wide-spectrum of individuals and families ranging from children to senior citizens. These services include advising family care givers, providing patient education and counseling as well as consultation to other community agencies and disciplines, case management interventions, and transitioning from the in-patient setting to home or care facility.
Social workers hold crucial roles in varied programs across VNSNY including Community Mental Health, Hospice, Intake (transitional care) for Home Care, Health Homes, and VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans. Their roles may find them helping a family that speaks little English locate services for a disabled child, or a patient who has suffered a catastrophic accident navigate the health insurance system, or assist a stroke victim in overcoming the depression that can accompany the loss of mobility. As part of the Hospice care team, they work with hospice patients and their families to grapple with end-of-life concerns. As one VNSNY social worker sums up her role, “We help you cope with life.”
All VNSNY social workers are licensed to work in New York State and have at least one year of experience in a health care setting. Other qualifications may apply, depending upon the program. On-going, intensive training is provided that is specially designed to address the needs of home health care patients.
- Social Worker Home Care
- Social Worker Hospice Care
- Social Worker CHOICE Health Plans
I love what I do because every patient comes with a different dynamic and different challenges. That’s helped me stay committed to this work for the past eighteen years. When I see my clients in their home environment, I go with an open mind and try to understand the patient’s point of view. You see the whole person that way. To bolster trust, I make some follow-up calls in front of patients. The key to successful social work is creating an alliance, so that the client knows we are there to assist. As medical social workers, we help our patients and their families adjust to the impact of illness on their daily lives, and help put the appropriate services and supports in place so they can have the best quality of life possible.
Marilyn Dos Santos
My job is to help hospice patients and their family members adjust to what’s going on, and give them a sense of control. A big piece of what I do involves reassuring patients and their families, and helping them find the strength to tolerate difficult and often unwelcome life changes. The role of social workers in hospice is to help families negotiate uncharted territory.
I always tell patients that in hospice we work as a team. The nurses help them with the stress inside their bodies, and I help them and their family members cope with the stress outside their bodies and give them a sense of control. To encourage families to open up, I like to use humor. I’ll ask patients and family members to “pinkie swear” about something. Nine times out of ten they’ll laugh, and then they’ll shake pinkies with me. While I don’t try to fix everything—I do try to get families to share their feelings and work through them. My goal is to help everyone come together so their loved one can feel more peaceful during his or her last days.
My work may also involve arranging for home attendants and making sure advance directives are in place and understood. If everything is going smoothly, hospice social workers will typically check in with their clients every couple of weeks. When it gets closer to the end, though, we visit more often, because that’s when they really need us. Patients need help acknowledging what’s happening, and families need help with their feelings of helplessness and uncertainty. Often we’re the ones who are preventing them from calling 911 and rushing their loved one to the emergency room. To help lessen families’ fears, my colleagues and I have a book we share with families, describing end of life symptoms. I also remind them that hearing is the last thing to go, so they should keep talking, sharing funny stories with their loved one and reminding them of happy times. That way you’re leaving them with positive memories.
Like all VNSNY CHOICE social workers, I provide telephonic support for residents throughout the New York metropolitan area as well as upstate, across all CHOICE product lines. My cases are referred either by CHOICE Care Coordinators or by the CHOICE Call Center in response to plan member calls. I frequently deal with members who have mental health issues—depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric conditions. I administer depression screens over the phone and then link members to additional mental health services as needed, either within VNSNY or elsewhere in the community. Other times the issue may involve concrete services. I help members and their family caregivers navigate Medicare and Medicaid, make sure their prescription drug plan is in place, and arrange things like food stamps or housing. Sometimes I’m just giving support, listening to their concerns and encouraging them to do something they enjoy. I also work closely with the VNSNY CHOICE Coordinators of Care, keeping them informed of what my interventions are and tracking what’s happening in terms of medical follow-up. When I’m working on a specific situation, it’s not uncommon to speak with a member and their family on a daily basis. It’s all about using communication skills, listening carefully to each person and engaging them. To be able to assist someone in resolving their issues and knowing that I’m helping to improve their lives in some way, is something I really enjoy.
Pharmacy Services Specialists
VNSNY pharmacy services specialists are licensed and registered in New York State to practice as a registered pharmacist. They provide technical, analytic and clinical support related to the management of VNSNY CHOICE pharmaceutical programs across all business lines. They act as a clinical pharmacy resource for clinical staff with medication management questions or pharmaceutical problems. This includes reviewing medication utilization for individual members and plans.
Home Health Aides
VNSNY and its private care affiliate, Partners in Care, place certified home health aides in all five boroughs of New York City, Nassau County, and parts of Westchester County. Home health aides spend more time with patients than nurses, therapists, and other members of the home health care team. They see changes in a client’s health or well-being that can affect care, and help improve the care plan by reporting their observations to the client’s coordinator of care. Home health aides’ duties have traditionally included preparing meals, helping clients to bathe and to dress themselves, and perhaps doing some light housekeeping. Instead of telling clients what to do, home health aides are trained to coach clients to form healthy habits and live better lives.
You can apply for job opportunities at Partners in Care through their careers website: