“This is Doris,” I said, picking up the phone receiver with one hand as I continued typing on the computer keyboard with the other. It’s amazing how social workers learn, or are forced to become multi-tasking. There is never enough time to complete all that is required in a day’s work.
“The social workers are here,” the receptionist announced.
“Good!” I exclaimed. I’ll be there in a minute,” I replied, hanging up.
Three social workers that had recently joined the medical department at a local hospital had arrived to meet me. They had expressed their desire to visit our facility and learn more about our services. I was quite excited to give them a tour. I am always eager to interact and network with colleagues.
I met the three girls. They were in her twenties, dressed casual, and looked excited. I walked them through the facility, showing them all areas, and explained the services provided. While walking the halls, I noticed them glancing at residents. Most of my residents were in wheelchairs, some in bed, and others ambulated with the assistance of a walker. I was proud of my residents. They looked clean, well groomed, and happy. Some of the residents greeted at the social workers.
We paused at the rehabilitation gym, one of my favorite areas. I love to see the residents getting stronger, recuperating, and redeveloping their physical and mental capacities. And I love even more when I see them leaving the facility, going back to their home.
One of the social workers expressed her approval as she observed residents in therapy, working the machines with their frail and slender arms which, with work, would gain endurance and be worth all the muscle stiffness and pain. A truly amazing scene.
Next, we headed to my second favorite place: the beauty shop. Several ladies were under hair dryers, getting glamorous hair styles. Others were being manicured. Anne, the beautician, is a very patient woman who enjoys making the nursing home ladies look pretty and stylish. I stopped for a good few minutes there, and gave the social workers a speech about self-esteem, femininity and dignity.
“As you can see, most of the ladies in this facility take pride on their personal appearance,” I gladly noted.
I walked to the door, heading back into the hall. When I turned and looked back, I noticed that the social workers had not followed me. They were still in the beauty shop.
Are they talking to the ladies? I wondered. They must have liked the place too, I mused, smiling. But then, after I glanced inside of the shop again, I noticed that one girl was wiping tears from her eyes, and the other two surrounded her, consoling her.
“Are you okay?” I asked. “I’m fine. Sorry,” the tearful woman replied with her soft voice cracking.
We all headed into the hall, and I continued my tour, trying not to think of the social worker’s emotional episode.
After I finished the tour I gave the girls some literature and my business card. They all seemed appreciative of the tour.
After they left I went back to my office and wondered what had happened. Did the facility or residents bring back sad memories? I was unsure what could have possibly triggered such a reaction. I sympathize with the girl, but I was also concerned about a social worker not being able to control her emotions in front of the population that actually needs her support.
I later thought about the incident, hoping that the young woman would become emotionally stronger as she advanced down her career path. The more she interacts with patients and families in the hospital, the more self-confident she will become, I anticipated.
A few months later, I was visiting some of my residents in the hospital. I came across one of the social workers that visited the facility. I was glad to see that she was assigned to one of my residents. I observed her working with self-confidence and pride. I was pleased.
After we talked about my resident I drew closer to her. “How is the other girl doing, the one that was tearful that day?” I whispered.
“She’s gone. She couldn’t handle the job”
I was astonished but not surprised.
I left the hospital immersed in thoughts about the young social worker that was gone. I wanted to believe that she had opted for another area of intervention more suitable to her aspirations and desires.
I prayed that she had found the right path on her career.