Social Work in the Public Eye (October 2015)

According to an article in Maryland’s Herald-Mail, some people may feel cooking for one is a waste of time, especially if they’re used to cooking larger meals for a family.

Maggie TerryNASW member Maggie Terry, a bereavement counselor for Hospice of Washington County, in Maryland, says in the article this is a comment she frequently hears. But there’s nothing wrong with making meal planning all about you, she says.

Terry occasionally leads workshops on cooking for one at the hospice, and says they are typically attended by those recently single as a result of a loved one’s death, or because their children have left the nest.

“It’s really a practical matter to start with,” Terry said.

She advocates organization, and suggests designating a day during the week to plan meals for four days out of the week, and to spend one or two days cooking several dishes in larger quantities.

“Those concoctions can be divided into some for oneself, some for sharing, and some for freezing or storing,” Terry said.

She adds that those living alone can pare down recipes, and it’s fine to eat store-bought, frozen or prepared meals a few days a week. But she recommends supplementing these with fresh foods.

Valerie BarnaNASW member Valerie Barna is a palliative care program coordinator and hospice social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Township, Pa.

She is quoted in an article on about the hospice programs and palliative care that the center provides for veterans.

Decades after serving in the Vietnam War, U.S. Army veteran Thomas Namack suffers from lung and liver cancer as a result of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange, the article says. He credits the center’s home hospice program with keeping him alive for the last six years and improving his quality of life.

“I could sit there and listen to the rain and watch the deer run across my front yard,” Namack says in the article.

Barna says the center provides palliative care and hospice programs where the veteran is.

“There is a variety of ways our veterans can access hospice and palliative care services,” she says in the article. “For example, we offer outpatient palliative care. We offer inpatient consultation services for veterans who are hospitalized.”

A team of physicians, social workers, psychologists, nurses, chaplains and volunteers assists veterans in the facility or at home, the article says.

“Results from our patient satisfaction surveys let us know that families are very pleased with the care that we provide to their loved ones,” Barna says. “In fact, 90 percent of families ranked care in hospice in the top two categories.”

Ken NakamuraA July article from San Diego State University’s online NewsCenter features NASW member Ken Nakamura, who they call a social justice champion in the field of child welfare.

Nakamura is also the project coordinator for the university’s School of Social Work, and he manages the school’s Title IV-E stipend program, which has been in place for 22 years. The program provides support for a specialized public child welfare curriculum, and students committed to working in public child welfare.

“As the project coordinator, I work with my colleagues across the state as well as within our region,” Nakamura says in the article. “The Title IV-E component of the Master of Social Work Program at SDSU has more than 500 graduates who have gone to work in tribal and county child welfare services across the state.”

As a young person in the late 1960s, Nakamura experienced a time of great social and political transition, the article says.

“Since being involved from a young age in efforts to address injustices across race, class and gender, I became aware of and attracted to the profession because of the National Association of Social Worker’s Code of Ethics, with a specific commitment to social justice,” he said.

Nakamura has been a social worker for more than 30 years, and at SDSU for six. He has worked as a social worker with children, youth and families, and in the education of undergraduate and graduate students in social work.

Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast in 2012, causing flooding, damage and trauma to residents in areas such as Seaside Heights and Atlantic City in New Jersey. Some people are still feeling emotional effects from the hurricane, particularly children, says an online article from 92.7 FM WOBM in Toms River, N.J.

This is based on a study by researchers at Rutgers University, New York University, Columbia University and Colorado State University, which found ongoing repairs, insurance claim disputes, mold problems and financial challenges are causing mental health issues for residents young and old.

Patricia FindleyIt is surprising, NASW member Patricia Findley says in the article, to find so many people struggling with a variety of issues three years later. But children are not always as resilient as some may think, she says.

“People after two years are typically recovering, are resilient and bouncing back, but we’re seeing particularly with children, more are at higher risk for mental health problems,” Findley said. “We typically think children are resilient, are going to bounce back, but that’s just not so. We have to pay attention to the children.”

She says many children were displaced because of Sandy, and they saw the adults in their lives struggle with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, disaster relief, home repairs, and other challenges. Some also had to change schools because of storm damage.

“They lost their peer support from their current neighborhoods and they were moved to different schools,” Findley says in the article. “That’s very disruptive in a young child’s life. Children aren’t able to separate out this event happened, and it’s over, when they see the repeated stories on the news they think it’s happening over, and over, and over again.”

She says to help children deal with the storm’s aftermath, parents should talk to them at a level they can understand and allow them to express what they’re feeling.

Sherry SaturnoNASW member Sherry Saturno has completed a documentary film called “Human Investment.” An article in New York’s Hudson Independent calls the film inspirational and educational.

It consists of individual interviews with a group of social workers in the health care field that were all participants and speakers at the Care Management Summit at Binghamton University in New York last year. They each use creativity and uniqueness to help others in need and invest in humanity, the article says.

The film is a part of a capstone project that Saturno had to complete for her postgraduate fellowship program at New York University. She says she wanted to take a different approach on the project, and decided to create a film — which would reach a larger audience — instead of writing an article.

“I actually filmed everyone in one day in about 11 hours,” Saturno says in the article. “They agreed to be interviewed for the film because I was only in Binghamton for that amount of time, and I had to film everyone back-to-back. There wasn’t an opportunity to actually catch them in action. It was really just one day filming 11 hours straight.”

Saturno, who is the executive director of the Hudson Valley Care Coalition in Tarrytown, N.Y., is planning to work on a new documentary about grief, how to overcome it in a positive way, and use the experience as motivation to help others.

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