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Social Work Mobilizes Mental Health

Circle of Care assists many older adults in the Toronto area by providing necessary supports. This especially includes Social Work services. As we celebrate Social Work Week, we’re highlighting the important work our Social Workers do each day. This year’s Social Work Week theme is ‘Mobilizing Mental Health’ where the actions and supports that social workers provide allow individuals to access essential care for their mental health. Simply put, Social Workers help clients have a better quality of life.

Below, our Social Workers share stories about the positive impacts that they have brought to our clients and emphasize the importance of Social Work.

After losing her husband, a Circle of Care client struggled to navigate and conduct every day duties. This client is deaf and disabled, and her husband was her ears, and also supported her by cooking, shopping, cleaning, and caring for her. The loss of her husband created a void in her life. But, with Maria’s support, she was able to move forward. Click the video below to watch her story.

“My client, a 74 year old male, was raising his 12 year old daughter alone and became ill in the last few years. He had to stop working, leaving him in a very difficult financial position. His friends supporting him for a while until they couldn’t anymore. I got involved and assisted him through advocacy and collaboration with other wonderful professionals. Initially, my client was able to get a couple of months’ rent covered, but when the funds ran out, he and his daughter were evicted from their home. Luckily, my client was offered a subsidized unit, but was given an extremely difficult time from the management staff who took many unnecessary steps to complicate his move into the building.

We had less than two weeks to ensure all necessary arrangements were made in order for my client and his daughter to move into their new apartment, before becoming homeless.  Within that timeframe and a lot of hard work and collaboration, I was able to arrange all the needed approvals and signed documents, insurances, packing services, and high moving costs set up and covered. Circle of Care had a great part in making this possible!

The events leading up to the moving date were extremely stressful and was filled with anxiety for all parties involved, but thankfully, everything worked out and my client is now able to pay his own rent, care for his daughter, and live with dignity. He continues to call me and keep me up to date, while always thanking me and letting me know that I am loved and considered ‘family’ for everything that I have done for them.”

Elinor, Social Work Professional Practice Lead

“Ms. M., a 73 year old, recently lost her daughter due to cancer. She was unable to afford her rental unit in downtown Toronto and had a fear seeking healthcare for 50 years. Ms. M was facing her own battle with skin cancer on her face, and she refused medical attention, despite the growing importance. She came to my attention as she was at risk for eviction. However, since she was in pain and wasn’t able to eat well, with gentle encouragement and persistence, I was able to get Ms. M to agree to go to a walk-in clinic.

The doctors she was seeing treated her situation with great sensitivity. She saw specialists on an outpatient basis until she was admitted to hospital where she was provided comfort care and treatment. I connected Ms. M to someone to assist her with managing her estate. Ms. M decided to move into Long Term Care where she will be taken care of and her medical issues will be managed. Ms. M managed to avoid an eviction and put her faith into the healthcare system so that she can live comfortably and with dignity.”

– Revital, Social Worker Care Navigator

“A client of mine was discharged from a hospital. After discharge, I followed up with him and during my assessment I discovered that he had bed bugs and cluttering issues. These were not reported to hospital staff. During my assessment, I was also able to get him to agree to services that he previously refused, such as getting a walker and cane to assist with his mobility.

I connected with public health and his building management to assist with his apartment living situation. According to public health, this apartment was one of the worst case due to the fact that the client had bed bugs for two years. He put his trust in me, so I made sure I was there for him when he needed.

The apartment was prepared for bed bug treatment, and then he needed to work with a hoarding service to assist with decluttering his home. As the months went by, the hoarding coordinator was delighted to see the good work and progress he was making.

The client said to me that they had many other social workers throughout their life, but working with me was positively different. They expressed appreciation for my intervention and advocacy as it resulted in a positive outcome.

At the end of this intervention, the client was able to make a big change in his living environment and was happy to stay there. Being able to see the progress and receiving such positive feedback encourages me to continue using an equity-minded practice and intersectionality lens when working with clients.”

– Maria, Social Worker – Care Navigator

“In 2022, I worked with a 92-year-old client with multiple medical difficulties including limiting mobility. He needed assistance with obtaining the necessary income documentation to keep his subsidized housing status, and because my client didn’t speak English –only Russian- I coordinated a joint home visit with a Russian-speaking interpreter, and a senior housing support worker to complete an assessment and develop a plan for the client.

During the time I worked with this client I also learned that he was being financially abused by someone close that prevented him from receiving his government benefits. Right away, I was able to engage the help of appropriate community and government organizations, and all government benefits and other financial expenses were set up as direct deposit and automatic payments with his bank account.

Once this intervention was completed, my client was able to complete and submit the necessary documentation that allowed him to maintain his subsidized housing status. He also restored control of his finances and begun to receive all the government benefits that he was entitled to. Finally, I was also able to connect him with community services for future planning and health care services.”

– Adela, Community Social Worker

“Over the years of being a Social Worker, I have observed in my work how important it is to be an advocate for our clients. Clients can sometimes feel ignored, misunderstood, or disregarded by family members or other healthcare professionals, and I have found myself often having to help our clients feel heard. When a client feels that they are not receiving the help that they need and have a challenging time connecting with others in the healthcare system, this can feel discouraging and clients may feel that they are unable to navigate social services independently. Taking the time to call clients back, listening to them and their requests, and striving to meet their needs are just some of the ways social workers help clients to feel acknowledged and heard.

By giving clients the time to express themselves and to listen to them, this can really help to make a difference in how they feel, while also improving their mental health, and ultimately the worker-client relationship we have with them.

Advocating for our clients is so important. We are an agency that values client-centered care, and I believe that Social Workers hold onto this value throughout their work at Circle of Care.”

 Julia, Holocaust Survivor Services Case Manager

“What has always inspired me as a Social Worker is the opportunity to help others and to facilitate equal access to supports that can make a difference in people’s lives. Social Workers are there to listen, to protect and to offer comfort, when nobody else is available, human-to-human.

Sometimes, being a Social Worker can be frustrating when resources are limited or not available and your client is suffering. But many times, you feel rewarded seeing that your client has improved their situation and they call you to share the good news and to thank you.

I feel fortunate to be part of an amazing team of Social Workers that support each other and that make working alone in the community less isolating; a team that collaborates with other teams at Circle of Care to provide the best possible service to clients; a team that is passionate about their profession. As a SW Manager, I aim to inspire my colleagues and to support them in the important work that they do. As a team member, I look forward to continue working together, by delivering support groups or assisting with difficult interventions. As a Social Worker, I feel grateful and honored to be able to touch lives in so many ways!”

– Patricia, Social Work Manager