March is National Social Work Month, and we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the important role that social workers play in developing and implementing Bridge.
Bridge relies on master’s prepared social workers to drive the model: in the role of the clinicians (Bridge Care Coordinator) and in the role of program supervisors. The Bridge Model National Office is also comprised of many social workers, and core competencies of social work are consistently taken into account as the model is further developed.
We asked some of members of our Bridge team for their perspective on social work’s role in doing care transitions work:
The social work perspective provides a thorough and well-rounded approach to care transitions, because we are trained to look at all aspects of a person’s life and how they may be affecting his/her well-being. Social workers have to be creative problem-solvers! – Eva Trampka, MSW (Solutions for Care, Bridge Care Coordinator)
Bridge Care Coordinators fill a unique role in care transitions. As social workers, BCC’s can touch the human part of a transition that is often missed by a medical perspective. For instance, a BCC’s assessment not only encourages a participant to make their follow-up PCP appointment, but they will make sure that they have transportation to get there, and have the tools necessary to ask questions they may not feel comfortable with. As social workers, BCC’s strive to meet the basic emotional and physical needs of the participant, not just the medical symptoms. – Katie Schmit, MSW (Solutions for Care, BMNO Program Management Team)
The Bridge Model is fundamentally a social work intervention. Bridge reflects social work values, as a person-centered intervention designed to address the physical, psychosocial, economic and environmental needs of older adults. The biopsychosocial assessment that is at the core of the intervention emphasizes patient and family assets as well as needs at this vulnerable time in order to identify strategies and supports to enhance health and wellbeing and reduce readmissions. – Susan Altfeld, MA, PhD (School of Public Health University of Illinois at Chicago, BMNO Executive Board member)
Leaving the hospital after being treated for an illness can be a relief, and at the same time somewhat terrifying, especially for an older person. Social workers have the skills to listen to the patient and to each person in the room, to hear and interpret their concerns and to mobilize resources to ease the transition, before, during and after the patient returns home. The Bridge Model is based on social workers’ ability to comprehend and interpret all the aspects of an older patient’s life, medical, environmental, familial relationships and to skillfully work with the patients and their support system to activate a plan that works for them. – Phyllis Mitzen, MSW (Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, BMNO Executive Board member)
For more on the importance of social work’s role in working with older adults, visit the National Center for Gerontological Social Work Education and the Geriatric Social Work Initiative.