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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

National Social Work Month spotlight: ESP Care Manager Cassie Grubb

National Social Work Month: Interview with ESP Care Manager Cassie Grubb

National Social Work Month

March is National Social Work Month. This year’s campaign from the National Association of Social Workers is Stand Up for Social Work! The campaign will educate the public about the contributions of social workers and give them tools they can use to elevate the profession.

Council on Aging employs more than 100 licensed social workers (LSWs) and licensed independent social workers (LISWs) who are vital to our mission of helping the people we serve remain independent in their homes. We offer a special thanks this month and year round to our social workers – and social workers everywhere – who are dedicated to improving the lives of others.

To commemorate National Social Work Month, we spoke with one of our own social workers, Cassie Grubb, LSW, about her experiences with COA and as a social worker. Cassie has been with COA for more than 12 years and is a care coordinator for the Hamilton County Elderly Services Program (ESP).  She also serves as a Team Educator for the ESP team.

What led you to choose a career in social work?

When I was in school, I knew that I wanted to be able to help people. At the time I was torn between social work and being a teacher. I worked at an adult day center and that helped me to decide on the direction I went. Somebody I worked with there actually helped me to get my job here at COA when I graduated. Although now that I’m a Team Educator, I guess I got to do both, after all.

(NOTE: In collaboration with COA’s Human Resources and Training team, Team Educators coordinate the training process for new hires within their respective departments. They also assist Human Resources in training COA’s Self Directed Teams on new trainings and initiatives.)

What do you find rewarding about the work you do?

Cassie National Social Work Month
Hamilton County ESP Care Coordinator, Cassie, with clients Myra and Richard (siblings)

I like being able to meet with people in their home and working with them where they feel most at ease. I see what it means to them to be there and I know that the work I do with them can help to keep them there. It means more than receiving any particular service. The goal is for them to be at home, not just get help with transportation or meals. It’s all for that goal.

Being a Team Educator, I also get to experience the reward of seeing new staff use what I’ve taught them and combine that with their own passion to help others and get out there and help their own clients. That is very rewarding to see happen.

You obviously experience some challenges in your role. Talk about one of them and what you do to overcome it.

One of the biggest challenges is meeting with somebody who doesn’t want help or is hesitant to listen to us. It might be because of pride, fear or simply not knowing me or COA enough to trust us.

I’ve found the best approach in this situation is to clearly define what we do and how we can help them. Then I explain that our services are there to keep them healthy, safe and at home. I also remind them that we are not only a help to them, but often their caregivers, who are often their own children. Just taking a caring and honest approach can go a long way.  

When somebody hears the title “social worker,” what do you want them to think of?

It’s hard to pin it down. The opportunities for social workers are so diverse. There are so many different populations that benefit from social work through limitless services. I just hope people understand how many different services we can provide and that each of us carries a unique set of skills and knowledge. I don’t even refer to myself as a social worker. I identify as a care coordinator, which is just one of the many options out there. Even as a care coordinator I continue to learn so many different things.

In the spirit of National Social Work Month, how would you say that you or your colleagues “Stand Up” for the people that you serve?

We are experts at what we do, but sometimes peoples’ needs go beyond what services we can provide, or they just could be a better fit for other programs. Sometimes our job requires being more than a care coordinator and we become their advocate and a resource. We can provide information and connect them to resources outside of COA. Sometimes we can even go as far as to make calls to those resources for them.

In my time here I’ve seen some instances where members of my team have gone above and beyond and devoted extra time to a client when it was needed. The people I work with can do some amazing things and they do it for the same reasons I got into this job. They just have that desire to help others. 

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