March 2022 Spotlight – Social Worker Month
March is the annual celebration of Social Worker month!
For this month’s Spotlight, we sat down with Alexandra Boucher and Justin Hopkins to chat about their experiences as social workers, what makes them love coming to work every day, rewarding moments and events, current challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what it’s like being a part of the Transitions family.
When asked about the most rewarding moments as social workers, both Alexandra and Justin discuss their dedication to their patients and their patients’ families. Alexandra highlights the quality time spent getting to know each patient individually, especially during a crucial time in their lives. “It’s knowing how they met their spouse or where their favorite place to travel is. Every one of our patients has a unique journey and celebrating that journey is the most rewarding part of being a social worker,” she expresses.
Justin adds, “I’m a firm believer in service,” noting his sense of duty to his team and his community. He also added that he feels most rewarded when he is “able to bring order and calm to a crisis,” taking pride in knowing he has made a difference in the lives of patients and their families. “To me, there is no nobler cause than service to those passing away.”
Justin also describes one of his most meaningful moments bonding with a patient over a shared love for Star Wars. The patient was a very dedicated fan who collected memorabilia, contributing to the largest gathering of Baby Yoda dolls in the United States. The two bonded over their mutual appreciation during their regular visits. “When I discovered that she had never watched The Mandalorian (from the Star Wars series), I set up a TV party to binge watch all of it with her. I brought my Xbox, a projector screen, pizza, popcorn… It was one of the best times in both our lives. I cherish it to this day and hold it in my heart. That meant the world to her.”
For Alexandra, the Alzheimer’s Walk volunteer event holds a very special place in her heart. “Not only does my Grandma have Alzheimer’s, but so do many of our patients. Alzheimer’s is an unpredictable and heartbreaking disease. It is a thief when it comes to time, and to take a day to remember and raise awareness for those impacted by the disease is an honor.”
Justin also describes how impactful funerals are at Transitions, conveying how the company differentiates itself from others by encouraging attendance. “We take the time to mourn and grieve with our families. When families see you and the chaplain, it really resonates with them. The encouragement Transitions gives to our staff to attend these funerals is also what I think really sets us apart as a care provider.”
Continuing to emphasize true quality of care, both Alexandra and Justin praise Transitions for the shared dedication from all team members and the company’s unique quality care model. “Being a part of the Transitions Care team is being a part of a family,” Alexandra describes. “It’s a workplace where everyone knows your name and asks about your family. My coworkers genuinely care about me, not only as a social worker but also as a wife and mom. The people I work with are the reason I continue to choose to be a part of the Transitions Care team.” Justin agrees, adding, “We’re very tight-knit and feel like a family. I haven’t felt a bond like that almost anywhere else I’ve worked.”
“I’m thankful for coworkers who call to check in and provide us as social workers with support as well,” Alexandra expresses. She explains how the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted her day-to-day over the past two years, by caring for each patient’s individual needs while adjusting to new restrictions and regulations at the same time. She highlights newly added protocols such as “taking our temperatures twice a day, weekly covid tests, zoom meetings instead of in person, wearing masks and quarantining, determining which patients we can see in-person and which facilities we are able to enter…” She also describes how interaction and visits from loved ones play a very important role in patients’ lives, and isolation due to facility restrictions can be heartbreaking. “Being a social worker in a pandemic is difficult and some days are more challenging than others.”
Justin best describes the experience as feeling “unreal.” He also describes the addition of new technology and programs tailored to help serve patients better than ever before. “Paper charting used to take up half a social worker’s day. Now I can just use these programs as I go, knowing that no one has to go digging through a file cabinet to see my notes. Everyone has access to all concerns and assessments, which helps paint a better picture for the needs of the patient.”
Alexandra adds that she feels deeply privileged to be able to share her support by providing her care in even the most challenging times. “As social workers, we are here to provide support by meeting our patients and loved ones where they are at. We are here to recognize their struggles and empathize with them. We navigate our lives while adjusting to their needs.”
“Not many generations can say they were a healthcare worker during what could arguably be called a plague!” Justin exclaims. “Now, in 2022, it feels like we are wiser for having gone through it.” As the new year continues, both Justin and Alexandra view the future at Transitions positively. “Transitions gives those who are seeking something newer and brighter the opportunity to feel closer to what true care ought to be!”