Inside Athena: Oakland Grove Social Worker Who Found a Niche in Senior Care
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Tina Swepson has found her niche working with seniors at Oakland Grove Health Care Center.
She has been a Social Worker at the Woonsocket center since October 2022. Having previously specialized in children with developmental disabilities, she was ready for a change and found enjoyment in working with seniors, hearing their stories and learning about their history.
“My role is to help residents with their social, emotional, and mental well-being,” she said. “I deal with the long-term care residents. My role here is to make them feel safe, comfortable, and making sure they are socially connected with others. Making sure that they feel that they’re getting their support.”
Swepson helps with resident admissions and discharges and serves as a resource to ensure all their needs are met while at Oakland Grove. She notes that oftentimes families may not be familiar with the services that are available with the aging process, like hospice care, and she is able to provide insight into help options.
“It’s very important for [residents] to have access to a social worker because, if they are here dealing with a long-term terminal illness, they need a social worker that can help them with making a referral to hospice or being able to provide comfort measures, and other resources to help them deal with a decline,” she said.
Residents may feel isolated, Swepson said, and she is able to provide a listening ear for them to be heard.
“I enjoy working with the residents,” she said. “Just meeting with them, talking with them throughout the day helps them to feel more included and it helps them to feel more social.”
Director of Social Services, Doug Klein, said Swepson shares a genuine bond with everyone.
“Tina’s sincere outlook is contagious. She always finds a way to connect with her residents, they know that she is listening to them. Tina is a naturally wonderful social worker, you can tell right away that this is her calling. She makes every resident feel welcome and at home,” he said.
Since joining the center, she has found meaning in helping people adjust to living at Oakland Grove as well as getting ready to enter back into the community.
“It definitely makes me feel like I’ve made an impact on that person’s life. I’ve definitely seen people who have been admitted here a while ago and, now a year later, it’s nice to see they’ve made some progress. I’ve even helped some people transition out to the communities, back to the assisted living facility and it’s really nice to see a smile on their face,” she said.
She holds a bachelor’s in communication disorders from UMass Amherst as well as a master’s in social work from Bridgewater State University.