NORWICH – March is National Social Work Month. The White House officially recognized National Professional Social Work Month in 1984. More than 600,000 people in the United States hold social work degrees. The Veteran’s Administration is the largest employer of social workers in the country, employing nearly 5,000 to assist veterans and their families with individual and family counseling, client education, substance abuse treatment, crisis intervention and end of life planning. There are hundreds of social workers in national, state, and locally elected office, including two U.S. Senators and eight U.S. Representatives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for social workers is expected to grow twice as fast as any other occupation, especially in gerontology, substance abuse, school social work, and home healthcare.
Hospice of Chenango County, a home care hospice agency, has two social workers on staff. Sarah Bliss is a member of the Hospice admission team, which first meets with potential patients and family. Bliss designs a psychosocial care plan based on the unique emotional needs of the family and caregivers. Her job is multi-faceted. On any given day she may help a patient understand his/her Medicare Hospice benefits or help a Medicaid eligible patient apply for assistance. She also works with children whose understanding of an impending loss is likely to be very different than the adults in the home. Another day she may help a patient personalize his/her funeral plans.