Celebrating National Social Work Month and Our Medical Social Workers

March is National Social Work Month, a time to recognize and celebrate this important profession dedicated to helping adults and children alike receive the support they need. 

Social work has roots dating back to the Middle Ages, but a more modern version gained traction in the 19th century, and in 1898, Columbia University offered the first social work class. 

And when it comes to health care, medical social workers (MSWs) have long been an important part of helping patients receive the best possible care — not only for their physical needs but also their emotional and spiritual ones. In the early 1900s, Massachusetts General Hospital became the first hospital in the United States to have professional social workers on site, and nurse Ida Cannon co-founded Medical Social Services at the hospital after seeing the necessity of addressing the psychosocial needs of her patients. 

At Agape Care, social workers play an essential role on the hospice care team, and we’re honored to have such an amazing group as part of our family. Along with helping our patients and families make decisions about care in their communities, social workers also provide guidance on advance care directives, financial concerns, and any other emotional needs. They are here to be a resource to patients and families as they navigate the end-of-life journey, and their work can help patients and families feel heard and understood. 

Many of our MSWs describe their work as a calling, not just a job, and feel honored and privileged to walk alongside patients and families during this difficult time. “I attempt to treat each patient and family member as if they were my father, brother, or mother,” says Connie Barr, an Agape Care LMSW. “I address their concerns and goals — not just check the boxes— and I know I make a difference when I respect their home and time, and allow them to process and make their decisions at their pace.” 

And for some of our medical social workers, they know from personal experience what a profound gift hospice can be. “Witnessing first-hand how my grandmother was cared for initiated my professional involvement in the field,” says Agape Care team member Ben Watson, LMSW and prospective LISW.

At Agape Care, our mission is to serve with love, providing comfort and support through compassionate care and meaningful experiences. Our social workers live out those words every day and help our patients and families feel supported and cared for. 

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating medical social workers, as well as the profession of social work as a whole, this month!