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Social work, Fox Run-style

These professional team members play a vital role in community life

Created date

July 19th, 2016
Fox Run’s social workers, from left to right: Kathleen Lang,  Andrew Hamill, Leah Edwards, Dawn Doyle and Katrina DiMango.

Fox Run’s social work department is available to help residents navigate life transitions and enjoy an active retirement lifestyle. Pictured from left to right: Kathleen Lang, Andrew Hamill, Leah Edwards, Dawn Doyle and Katrina DiMango.

Like all stages in life, retirement brings its own set of specific challenges related to mental and emotional health and well-being. Older adults might grapple with issues around being a caretaker, loss of a spouse, or loneliness due to social isolation. But for the nearly 1,200 retirees living at Fox Run, staying mentally and emotionally healthy is quite a bit easier because they live in a vibrant and supportive environment.

And the social work team is one of the many amenities that enable Fox Run residents to have an active and enjoyable retirement. 

A helping hand

Fox Run’s social work department offers a wide range of services. For example, they are available to meet with new community members to discuss services to help with a smooth move to the community. The social work staff also helps pair new residents with a fellow resident ambassador who can show them around the community and introduce them to neighbors. 

Fox Run social workers provide residents with referrals and resources, and can offer short-term counseling if necessary. And, they provide education about and assistance with Medicare, medical durable power of attorney, and advanced directive paperwork. Through the social work department, Fox Run residents can also participate in a variety of support groups such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, neuropathy, and low vision. 

For community members who find themselves in need of short-term rehabilitation or a higher level of long-term care, the social work department can help facilitate a transition to Rose Court, Fox Run’s continuing care neighborhood. 

Resources to remain independent

Kathleen Lang, who has a master’s degree in social work from Eastern Michigan University, heads up Fox Run’s social work department. She says the kinds of services she and her team offer go a long way in safeguarding against things like depression and isolation, which can be common as people get older. 

“We are here to support the people who live here in any way we can,” Lang says. “Living in a community like this can extend residents’ lives just by having access to services and knowing their community watches out for them.”

Lang’s team includes independent living social workers Katrina DiMango, Andrew Hamill, and Kristin Folino, as well as Dawn Doyle, who oversees the long-term care, assisted living, and memory care neighborhoods, and Leah Edwards, who is responsible for short-term rehabilitation. The social work department is proactive about making sure residents know what kinds of services they offer and how to access them. They have a table at Fox Run’s community expo, and they promote services through flyers and educational forums. The social work staff also greets residents at happy hours where they can become better acquainted and answer any questions.

What’s more, the people who live at Fox Run have regular interactions with staff members from many different departments as well as their fellow neighbors. Unlike when retirees are living alone in the house, those who live at Fox Run have the security that comes with being in a community where people look out for each other.

Feedback from community members about the services the social work department provides is very positive, Lang says. In fact, residents have expressed a desire for even greater interaction with Fox Run’s social workers. To respond to that request, Lang says she and her team are making a point to visit with residents during coffee gatherings, happy hours, and special events. They’ve also been collaborating with the Resident Advisory Council to put on quarterly educational forums to inform residents about the ways that the social work department can make their lives more rewarding.

“[Residents] feel that social workers have made their lives easier—whether it’s a hospital stay, a transition from the hospital back to their apartment home, or when they have personal questions or concerns,” Lang says.