Honoring Social Work Month 2023
An unknown writer once referred to social work as “The art of listening and the science of hope.” That may just be the most perfect description there could be for this profoundly important discipline.
To mark National Social Work Month, we asked our St. John’s Social Workers—those social work professionals who work across our spectrum of senior services, as well as retired social workers living throughout our communities—what attributes are most important to be truly successful in the field. In short, what makes a great social worker?
Marquise Melton – Rehab Social Worker, St. John’s Home:
Patience and professionalism are both very important skills in the social work profession. Patience specifically helps to better understand resident needs and allows you to focus on the resident’s happiness versus making quick decisions that lead to undesirable outcomes.
Linda Farnaham – St. John’s Home Resident and Retired Social Worker (Hillside Family of Agencies and the Arc of Monroe):
You have to be caring. Social workers need to have a broad view, and you need to be caring enough to put the work in to help people get the best results.
I loved every day that I was a social worker. It’s part of who you are—and you are one forever.
Dezzerey Rodriguez – Social Worker, St. John’s Home:
Patience is important because you never know what you are going to be dealt with coming in for your shift and you never know what someone else is going through, whether it be a resident or staff. So before you respond to that person who is having a rough day take a deep breath, consider if this person can be going through something outside of work, and choose kindness.
Hannah DeGeorge – Elder Advocate, St. John’s Meadows:
Adaptability and empathy are key. As the Elder Advocate, my role often requires me to change course at a moment’s notice and respond to crises, but also guide residents to the supports to meet their needs with understanding and compassion. As a social worker, you have to be able to meet people where they are, validate their feelings, and help them to see their path of growth.
Kevin Kearney – St. John’s Meadows Resident and Retired Social Worker (Director of the Mental Hygiene Legal Service , 4th Legal Circuit of New York State):
As a social worker, you need to be knowledgeable about the existence of agencies and resources that are available. The more you know about the community and the resources that are available, the better you can help connect your clients to the services and support they need.
I had some great experiences, especially when you would see a parolee respond to the changes they needed. You feel good seeing people succeed and know you had a hand in it. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Judy Peace – Social Worker, St. John’s Home:
Compassion. If you are passionate about what you do, then you will succeed.
Kierra Cox – Social Worker, St. John’s Home:
Compassion – As a long-term care social worker, especially after working through COVID, you may be faced with obstacles that might seem detrimental, but taking on the task with a sincere heart and all hands available can have a lasting effect for both you and the person/families you’re supporting!
Morgan Campbell – Rehab Social Worker, St. John’s Home:
Collaboration. When working with residents who are at St. John’s for rehabilitation, it is crucial that we as social workers collaborate with many different individuals and groups including: resident, family members/advocates, community agencies, medical team, and physical and occupational therapists, and so many more to create a safe discharge plan in the best interest of the resident.
Kelsey Gendron- Social Worker, St. John’s Home:
Compassion. When someone comes to a nursing home it’s (often) a crisis mode. They have been through something traumatic—a loss. Being a social worker means listening and showing compassion, putting yourself in their shoes. Often, we are the people families call because they don’t know who else to go too. We build positive relationships with our families because we show them compassion and a kind heart.