The Role of Social Workers in the Long-Term Acute Care Setting

There’s no better time than now to highlight the role of social workers in the Long-Term Acute Care (LTACH) Setting. March, after all, is National Social Worker Month.

But the importance of the role and function of social workers in a LTACH is worthy of attention year-round. A social worker is a vital member of any health care team and serves in many different capacities, including as a liaison between the patient and the care community.

Let’s take a closer look:

Social Workers in the LTACH

  • Making the Transition
    The social worker helps the person entering a long-term acute care facility to help them make a transition to the LTACH from an acute care hospital. Once the patient is in their new setting at the LTACH, the social worker continues to see that his or her needs are met, and that they are participating in planning for continued care now and in the future.
  • Identifying Resources
    Social workers help patients identify resources to meet their individual needs. They also serve as the patient’s advocate in dealing with insurance providers to secure the most comprehensive coverage possible.
    In fact, serving as the patient’s advocate is one of the most important roles.
  • Working with Patients’ Families
    A social worker in an LTACH setting spends much of their time with a patient’s family and friends, and must always be aware of factors that have an impact on the patient’s well-being.
    Patients and families deal with many aspects of a specific illness, including learning more about it, the diagnosis, and the steps in the recovery process. A social worker helps them deal with each step that hopefully leads to a safe recovery.
  • A Wide Range of Tasks
    Typical duties for social worker may include: interaction with potential residents and their families, pre-admission and discharge planning, and assessment and completion of the part of the minimum data required for each patient.

The LTACH social worker will also:

  • Contact and utilize community resources on the resident’s behalf.
  • Ensure that the social and emotional needs of each patient are met.
  • Promote the maximum level of independence for each resident.
  • Participate fully in resident care planning as part of an interdisciplinary team.

In all cases, the social worker provides a physical environment that is supportive while fostering a positive self-image for residents through social contact, independence, and decision-making opportunities.