The Mission of the Social Services Department at NHVH is to help other human beings work through the challenges they face with dignity and respect. One of our key guiding principles is to help make the New Hampshire Veterans Home a place that promotes optimum quality of life for those who live and work here.
When a new resident is admitted to the Veterans Home, he or she may arrive in a weakened condition but we challenge people to have a full life while they are here, have fun, focus on abilities and adapt to long term care. Residents may even redefine themselves. We promote rehabilitation and restorative health. Our recreation therapy programs focus on discovering and building our residents' strengths. We don't want a person to become just an object of care. By encouraging an interdisciplinary approach, we remind ourselves to focus on the whole person. When we do this, and it's always an uphill battle, we work every day to redefine long term care.
In order for a resident to have a meaningful long term care experience we want to identify and nurture that person's strengths. We talk with them, observe them, and spend time with family members. It's wonderful when we can find something like music or art or writing or photography that a resident can become immersed in. Each person is unique. Each person has enormous potential, and when you don't have to mow the lawn, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, clean the house, shovel snow, or do other errands, there are wonderful opportunities to unleash that potential and transform one's life.
We are here to help people through life transitions. As family members age and need long term care, there will inevitably be changes in the relationships people have with each other. The hopes and dreams they once had will need restructuring.
The social worker promotes and strengthens family members' motivation to deal with life transitions. He or she listens to, identifies, and manages feelings of guilt and anger–providing support. Entering into long term care is challenging for everyone, and in some cases, a family member may have positive or negative preconceived ideas about what their loved one is capable (or incapable) of doing. They may also have fear/worry about the new environment. Social workers can help clarify and sometimes challenge those perceptions and help expand the resident's horizons.
Social workers provide support, legitimize concerns, validate strengths, convey hope, and reduce fear-based ambivalence and resistance. Social workers provide rewards for coping: positive reinforcement. They help show family members how to interact with a loved one who has dementia and is advancing. Affirmation, acceptance, and finding common ground are important to both the resident and family member. For example, a social worker may suggest that a spouse take her husband/his wife (with dementia) to the Veterans Home Town Hall and play music on the jukebox–this may enable them to revisit happy memories of tunes from years ago. This is an experience each can relate to and will be meaningful to both.
The social worker helps family members learn adaptive skills. For example, when the veteran lived at home, the caregiver probably spent a huge majority of his or her time taking care of the loved one. Most caregivers don't have time to take care of themselves. Their health may suffer; relationships with other family members or friends usually suffer as well. The social worker can help the family member relinquish some of that control, and reestablish relationships or help the caregiver learn to take better care of himself or herself. Social workers offer advice and suggestions that help residents and family members adapt to their new roles.
The social worker is the point person between family members and the resident. The long term care environment can be very complex and the social worker can help the family navigate through what may feel like strong currents or choppy waters. Our social workers provide resources, information, and support.
When a resident needs a higher level of care, the staff on his or her unit may suggest "an Inter-Unit Transfer". This happens when the staff believes that the resident's needs have grown more complex-perhaps the resident needs to be fed, or lifted, or becomes totally dependent on staff for care–and he or she can receive this higher and more specialized level of care in a different nursing setting within the Veterans Home. The social worker will help the family with this transition, explaining why it is important, and more beneficial to the resident, to make the move.
Social Workers lead Family Caregiver Support Groups on the second Tuesday and second Sunday of the month, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Tarr South Conference Room. Please contact your relative's Social Worker for more details regarding Family Groups at NHVH.
New Hampshire Veterans Home
139 Winter Street | Tilton, NH 03276-5415 |
(p) 603-527-4400 | (f) 603-286-4242