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An Early Graduation Gift

Posted by Nicole Perry, LCSW, ACHP-SW

An Early Graduation Gift

I have been so fortunate to be a social worker and now a field team manager for JourneyCare. The patients and families I meet truly affirm why I was drawn to this work. Some of the most challenging circumstances I have experienced working with family members became some of the most exciting, compelling and educational cases I have ever had the privilege of working on and I consider them “gifts.”

In my five years with JourneyCare, there have been so many moments that stand out and truly touched my heart...moments made possible by care teams working together creatively and pooling resources, all to make a difference, big or small, for patients and families.

Several years ago, I met a single mom in her mid-50s with cancer. She had an 18-year-old daughter who was a high school senior, and her goal was to see her daughter graduate in May. However, it was December and it wasn’t clear if she was strong enough to make it until then. We learned that the daughter hadn't had her senior pictures taken, so we decided to arrange a photo shoot to include senior pictures and photos of mom and daughter together. Our hope was that the photos would be therapeutic for both mom and daughter, while providing lifetime memories.

We worked with our JourneyCare Foundation, which contacted a professional photographer who donated her service, and a social worker at the daughter’s high school who let us borrow a cap, gown and tassel. The result was a lovely album of senior pictures and some beautiful photos of mom and daughter together―something that would not have been possible without the combined efforts of our team, the JourneyCare Foundation and support from a social worker.

There are really so many more stories I could share about the wonderful experiences I have had as a hospice social worker and team manager. What makes the job of a hospice social worker so special is being invited into the sacred space at the end-of-life, to walk the journey with our patients, families and community partners. There is really no other setting like this where we are welcomed into such intimate times in the lives of others, where we are depended on and needed for crucial skills and support.

As a social worker, it’s an honor to provide care and support for our patients and families, and I appreciate each and every day. Next time you see a social worker, wish them Happy Social Workers Month and thank them for the very important work they do.

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