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Inside social work at Bridgepoint

Q & A with Christopher Hayden

At Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, one of the instrumental players in patients' success is their social worker.

In celebration of Social Work Week, happening March 3 - 9, Bridgepoint's own Christopher Hayden discusses the reasons he got into social work and how he maintains his passion for the job.

Social worker sitting on couchName: Christopher Hayden
What is your title at Bridgepoint?
Social worker

What is your proudest accomplishment to date as a social worker?

It always feels great to receive thanks. When patients and families at the hospital thank me, I feel proud knowing that the time I spent talking to a patient about a concern or their discharge options was appreciated.

What do you like most about being a social worker?
As a career, social work is really flexible. I could be working in a wide variety of fields and that excites me. At Bridgepoint I get to meet so many different people and learn about their lives, cultures and interests. It is really great to be able to support positive change happening with our patients.

Why did you become a social worker?

I have always been working to support communities and programs that I believe in. I came to social work with a political science background. I was interested in working with people to support them in dealing with challenging situations in their lives.
Social work is also a great fit with all the people skills I have developed in my life. I've been a waiter, a program developer, and a camp director. All of these experiences have helped me become more adaptable and able to connect with people in a short amount of time.

What do you like least about being a social worker?

I'm working on improving my self-care. As a social worker you often act as a sounding board for others and need to meet tight deadlines (calling a community agency before they close for the weekend, fitting in conversations with family etc.). I find that when I'm working at such a high intensity for so long, I end up getting rundown, and stressed out too. This isn't my favourite part of being a social worker, but I try to take care of myself by going to the gym and playing with my dog.

If you could make one change this year, what would it be?

I've started a certificate in grief and bereavement counseling. I'm trying to find ways to broaden my social work practice. Grief and loss are hard to talk about, but people experience these emotions in hospital. I'd like to be better equipped to support my patients in these situations.

How do social workers play such an important role on Bridgepoint's interprofessional care teams? Social workers are valuable because our positions are flexible. We are able to collect and summarize information from other team members to support patients and families in understanding what is happening during a hospital stay. Social workers are solution finders; we try to link people to appropriate resources that will support their transitions back to the community. And social workers are also advocates. We often are able to consider how an addiction or lack of family support, for instance, can impact a patient's progress in therapy.

How are you celebrating Social Work Week?

As part of the grief and bereavement counseling program I've joined, we are hosting a Bridgepoint Social Work Week Booth on March 5 and I am excited for our "Tree of Change" project. We are inviting the Bridgepoint community to share their experiences of positive change by adding a leaf  to our tree.


Recreational Therapy rekindles patient's creativity

Artistic Expression class inspires hand-made gifts of appreciation

January, 2014

When Luciano DiCarlo first arrived at Bridgepoint Hospital as an inpatient in June 2013, he was almost completely bedridden. After liver surgery, complications with his medication had left him weak and unable to walk. Luciano's family was thankful to find Bridgepoint - an ideal place for him to receive rehabilitation and recover from the traumatic experience.

During his first two weeks here, Luciano spent his days reading and listening to his beloved classical music. But as his condition gradually improved, he craved further stimulus. Reaching out to our Recreational Therapy program, Luciano decided to attend an Artistic Expression class, where he could experiment with different paints and canvas - all while tuning his fine motor skills.

To his delight, Luciano has quickly rediscovered his great passion for art and all things creative. With a previous career in architecture, his talents came as no surprise to his family. Luciano's daughter pressed Luciano to continue with his art projects and to challenge himself. Her constant encouragement has helped him to overcome many frustrations of his condition, including shaky hands.

Luciano's interprofessional care team - who have all taken note of his artistic abilities - has been equally encouraging. Inspired by the overwhelming support he has received from Bridgepoint staff on his unit, Luciano decided to use his talent to convey his sincere gratitude.

Luciano says, "I have so much appreciation for the staff here. I wanted to personally thank all of those who have helped me in some way." One by one, Luciano carefully crafted birdhouses for the staff members of 7 South - each specially individualized to match the characteristics of each person.

As for Bridgepoint's Recreational Therapy program, Luciano cannot say enough, "They work so hard to offer activities day in and day out - activities that can make a complete difference in a patient's life. I am now gaining back the control of my hands, and I have them to thank."                 

Luciano's story is a perfect example of what Bridgepoint's Therapeutic Recreation programs strive to help patients achieve. "The purpose of therapeutic recreation is to provide an opportunity for patients to improve and maintain functional ability, cognition, and mood, as well as develop skills and knowledge," says Jennifer Ridgway, Recreation Therapist and Professional Practice Leader. "Luciano is a demonstration of how our programs can inspire hope, improve quality of life and optimize confidence in those facing a challenge in their life."