The mind is a powerful tool; and according to CCAC Social Worker, Marlene Howard, it's one of our greatest assets. "Most of our patients already have the answers to their questions; I just love having the opportunity to help them through their journey of getting there."
Based in Kirkland Lake, Marlene focuses on patients who are dealing with depression, anxiety and those receiving palliative care. On a daily basis, she visits patients and their caregivers who are suffering from an acute or chronic illness, coping with a disability, experiencing the effects of aging and loneliness, or who are struggling mentally and emotionally.
"My favourite part about being a social worker is that I never know what the day will hold," admits Marlene. "Every single case is different. I can meet five different people in a day and they will have five different stories to tell."
Marlene says that social work is all about building positive relationships. "I go into my visits with only my knowledge as a tool, no walkers or stethoscopes. I spend a lot of time teaching my patients about different techniques to help them deal with the diverse issues they are facing in their lives. Although many times; I learn a life lesson from them as well."
For a few weeks this summer, Marlene supervised a young student doing her social work placement at the North East CCAC. The student quickly noted that Marlene's patients seemed very comfortable sharing their stories with her.
"I remember explaining to the student that this was the advantage of seeing people in their home environment. They feel safe and are more willing to open up about their personal lives. That's what makes home care so special. I'm able to connect with my patients on a whole different level."
Marlene believes that being part of a multidisciplinary team is very beneficial for herself and her patients. "There is a special bond between colleagues at the North East CCAC. At the Kirkland Lake branch, I can go down the hallway and ask any of my co-workers a question or discuss a case and everyone is willing to help. There's a lot of collaboration that goes into our daily activity."
Marlene and the entire Social Work team at the North East CCAC are healthcare professionals who offer much more than simply someone to talk to – they play a key role in a patient's circle of care. "Every day we ask ourselves 'what is best for the patient?' I believe that we really take the time to ensure that our actions reflect the answer to that question."