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Social work, Linden Ponds-style

These professional team members play a vital role in community life

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July 20th, 2016
Linden Ponds’ social work department is available to help residents have an active and enjoyable retirement lifestyle. (From left) Social workers Colleen O’Brien, Terri Hoitt, Carmel O’Doherty-Popp, Julie Anderson, and Kristen Gotter.

Linden Ponds’ social work department is available to help residents have an active and enjoyable retirement lifestyle. (From left) Social workers Colleen O’Brien, Terri Hoitt, Carmel O’Doherty-Popp, Julie Anderson, and Kristen Gotter.

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 more than 1,000 retirees living at Linden Ponds, staying mentally and emotionally healthy is quite a bit easier because they live in a thriving and supportive environment. 

Not only do they have hundreds of peers available for camaraderie and emotional support, but if needed, they also have access to a team of professional social workers who can lend an extra helping hand during difficult times and transitions. The social work team is just one of the many amenities that enable Linden Ponds residents to have an active and enjoyable retirement.

A helping hand

Linden Ponds’ social work department offers a wide range of services. For example, they are available to meet with new residents to discuss support services to help with a smooth move to the community.

“The meeting is also an opportunity for community members to get to know the social worker who will be a resource for them once they become part of the community,” says Terri Hoitt, senior manager of Linden Ponds’ social work department.  

Social workers facilitate referrals for services or programs that assist Linden Ponds residents in staying active and independent. For those who experience a need for short-term rehabilitation or a higher level of long-term care, the social work department can facilitate a transition to Rose Court, Linden Ponds’ continuing care neighborhood. 

“Social workers contact community members and their families once they return to their independent living home following a hospitalization or rehab stay at Rose Court to assess for any changes or additional needs,” Hoitt says. “We also stay in contact with the spouses of residents who are hospitalized or in rehab to offer support and provide assistance.”

Through the social work department, community members can participate in a variety of support groups, including diabetes, low vision, hearing loss, Parkinson’s, and the new resident experience. 

The social work staff also provides a range of memory care services, including memory fitness classes, which provide educational and practical techniques to enhance and maintain brain function.  

“[Linden Ponds social workers] work as a collaborative team throughout the continuum of care for people who live at Linden Ponds,” Hoitt says. “The goal of the social work team is to assist residents in maintaining their independence and quality of life through our role as a supportive and educational resource.”  

Interdisciplinary, proactive care 

Hoitt, who has a master’s degree in social work from Boston College and almost 30 years of experience working as a social worker in hospital settings, 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.

The team includes independent living social workers Carmel O’Doherty-Popp and Colleen O’Brien, and continuing care social workers Julie Anderson and Kristen Gotter. 

Linden Ponds’ social work department is proactive about making sure residents know what kinds of services they offer and how to access them. The team employs “touch point” programs and hosts quarterly meet and greets outside of the community’s restaurants so residents have ongoing opportunities to talk to them whenever they want or need to. 

And that’s not just true of the social work department. People who live at Linden Ponds have regular interactions with staff members from many different departments as well as with their neighbors. Unlike when retirees are living alone in a house, those who live at Linden Ponds have the security that comes with being in a community where people look out for each other.

“The social workers have an open-door policy, and many residents drop in for questions, concerns, or assistance,” Hoitt says.

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