In honor of March being Social Work Month, ACE Senior Care Navigators is proud to showcase the incredible work that social workers do for older adults. This month we are highlighting a few social workers to share the variety of roles these professionals have. If you missed our previous interviews, check out Colleen Collins Josellis, a former medical social worker, and Tricia Mullin, a home services social worker.
Today’s post features Karen Faith Gordon, LMSW, CCM, CDP, CGCS, SRES, RYT-200. Karen is the founder and owner of Karen Faith, LLC, a private mental health counseling and care management practice based in Michigan. She is also an Advanced Professional member of the Aging Life Care Association. Karen draws on a rich background in the senior care space to provide compassionate guidance and support to older adults and their families. We are very grateful to Karen for sharing with us her experiences as a social worker in care management:
How does your background as a social worker inform how you operate as an Aging Life Care Professional?
Most client issues are complex and multi-layered; my background as a social worker supports my ability to be exhaustive in the search for possible solutions. I see individuals through a holistic lens, considering each person as part of a larger system: family, community, home environment. All of these components directly affect processes and outcomes. Challenges are met with informed, thoughtful compassion in order to create optimal outcomes for clients and their families.
What are your goals as a social worker in this field?
My goal as a social worker in the field of care management is to provide clarity, hope, and actionable strategies for clients. People are often unaware of the choices available to them, as their experiences have revealed roadblocks in the system of care. I am committed to empowering clients with education and resources to navigate the myriad issues that arise along the way. On a global scale, I am an advocate to improve access to affordable care through policy and calls to action. The need for the services of care managers far exceeds the supply of professionals in the field at this time; I am intentional in my efforts to raise awareness about the profession of care management and cultivate growth in this much-needed arena.
What do you enjoy or find rewarding about your work?
I am rewarded by collaboration with families, colleagues, and providers of care to achieve best outcomes. I am humbled by the trust of my clients and grateful for their willingness to allow me to support their journey.
What is challenging about your work?
The inherently broken system of care is a constant challenge in my work. By far, the most heart wrenching issue I observe is what I think of as, ‘the invisibility syndrome’. Gaps in communication and shortages of direct care workers create a situation in which elderly patients become ‘invisible’ within the very setting meant to provide care and healing.
What do you wish others knew about social workers in the care management sector?
We are an invaluable voice for our clients. The metaphors are many: We are the ‘boots on the ground,’ the ‘quarterback,’ the person ‘in the trenches’ ready to do whatever it takes to get the care our clients need. We are committed to dignity and quality of life, which means we show up in excellence for every conversation about the care needs of our clients. Care managers are some of the most resourceful, think outside-of-the-box, compassionate people you will ever meet.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, Karen! We know your clients are very lucky to work with you, and it is humbling to learn about the work you are doing for your community.
Karen is a strong supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and invites you to support them in their research and initiatives to improve the health and quality of life for individuals with Type I Diabetes.