A day in the life of a senior living social worker

Stephanie Ebarb serves as the director of social services at Parkway Place in Houston. She’s been with Buckner since 2013 and today is sharing a day in her life.

5:50 Wake up!

At 5:50 I wake up, make breakfast and take my daughter to school. We live an hour from Parkway Place, which means that by 6:30, we’re out the door ready to go. Listening to music on these long drives is my self-care!

8 a.m. Arrive at Parkway Place

I hit the ground running as soon as I get to work. Morning rounds start at 8, so by then I'm already visiting with residents.

I work primarily in skilled nursing and make sure to see each of these residents every morning. Sometimes they want to talk or ask questions, so morning rounds can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how much residents want to discuss.

8:30 a.m. Director meeting

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we have director meetings, so on these days I make sure to finish rounds on time. During these meetings, directors from areas across the community—including dining, wellness and life-enrichment—meet as a leadership team to hear from Susan Phelps, our executive director, and touch base on community-wide initiatives.

9:30 a.m. Nursing meeting

The nursing team gathers for what we call “standup” at 9:30 every morning. During this time, the healthcare administrator, therapy director, nurse team and I meet with the director of nursing to communicate any changes regarding resident care. These meetings are short but crucial to resident wellbeing. It’s important that a nursing team works together on behalf of every resident, and Parkway does that beautifully!

9:45 a.m. Family meetings

Every Wednesday, we have family care plan meetings from 9:40 until lunch time. During this time, representatives from therapy, nursing and dietary meet with family members to discuss their loved one’s care plan. Each resident’s family meets with us once a quarter, so we keep a busy rotating schedule!

The other days are rarely planned. My office is a revolving door. People are always coming in and out, which rarely leaves time to plan or organize. But that’s the social work life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Noon: Lunch

I try to leave the building for lunch, but usually end up working through it. I always want to be available to residents, family or fellow team members, so even though my task list is long, I love what I do. 

Afternoon

The rest of my day, I’m working predominantly with family members. I provide a safe place for them to ask questions because many have never gone through this process with a loved one before. I’m there to provide support.

Throughout the day, I’m also communicating constantly with my interdisciplinary team, and I certainly couldn’t do this job without them. I get a lot of help from the two social work graduate interns here too.

If you were to summarize my job in a nutshell, I work as an advocate for residents before, during and after their time at Parkway Place. If a senior adult moves to Parkway for the first time, I assess their psychological, social and spiritual well-being to determine how we can best serve them. If a resident needs to see a dentist, podiatrist or eye doctor, I help set up those appointments. If it’s time for a resident to be discharged, I create a plan to keep them moving toward success even after they leave.

4:30 p.m. Go home

I try to leave between 4:30 and 5 p.m. each day. I sometimes stay later to finish up paperwork, because as much as I’d like to be with residents all day, there is inherently a lot of paperwork involved in social work. 

Evening

In the evening, I spend time with my family and finish projects for my second job as a field liaison for the University of Houston. I have 21 graduate students under me and help make sure their internships provide a quality educational experience. I’m also working on my own clinical license, so evenings and weekends often mean studying.

I truly love the work I do and love being busy. When I went to school to be a social worker, I knew this is exactly what I wanted to do. Serving senior adults is my passion.

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