Residential in the Real World
With any service or organization, there’s some element of paperwork and procedure that is necessary to keep the machinery running. And when we’re expecting something like a replacement card or a tax reporting document, a few days or weeks of waiting can pass like no time at all. But when a person’s basic needs hang in the balance, the speed of the system can feel perilously slow, dragged down further by evenings, weekends, and holidays. In cases like these, there’s no substitute for the power of human connection and fellowship. Read on to discover how Christian, a medical social worker and therapy mentor at Residential Home Health, mobilized his community to provide immediate relief for a patient in dire need.
When future security doesn’t meet immediate needs
It was the end of December, and Christian’s patient was nearing the end of a difficult financial episode. The patient had been placed under guardianship after suffering a stroke, and had only recently won a legal judgment granting him the bulk of the benefits that he was owed. Yet as the saying goes, it’s always darkest just before the dawn; here, the promise of future financial security couldn’t address the patient’s immediate basic needs. With no money coming in yet, and with the deadlines and appointments for repayment still several weeks away, his food supply ran out.
Feeling isolated and unsure of where to turn, the patient contacted his Residential Home Health care team to inquire about emergency assistance. Christian quickly weighed his options; arranging for assistance from aid organizations takes time, and this patient needed to eat now and for the next few weeks. Then inspiration struck, this time from outside the bureaucratic box.
Mobilizing an instantaneous community response
In his home life, Christian is a den leader for his son’s Cub Scout pack. One of his scouts is the son of a local pastor, whose church had organized a hugely successful food drive around Thanksgiving. Now, it was less than 48 hours before the New Year: kids were out of school, families were preoccupied with holiday obligations and traveling, and businesses were operating on sluggish holiday time. But when Christian called the pastor, she responded immediately — and so did her congregation.
By turning to his own community for support, Christian was able to address his patient’s concern faster and better than either of them thought possible. Less than 24 hours after the patient’s initial call, Christian was pulling up to his home in a car stuffed with food — enough to fill a shopping cart. The patient was moved to the point of tears, overwhelmed by the compassionate gesture that would meet his food needs for the near future, while Christian was happy to experience the kind of moment that had inspired him to go into social work.
Before ending his visit, Christian supplied the patient with plenty of information about local food banks and other sources of aid, to ensure that he would be able to weather the rest of the wait for his benefits. But Christian’s resourceful thinking extended routine patient care into an expression of caring that could sustain this patient in the hardest of times.