Soap Operas Inspired Maefair’s Dir. of Social Services To Pursue Career
March celebrates National Social Work Month. At Athena Health Care Systems, we want to recognize our Social Services Departments and all the work they do, the contributions they make, and the impact they have on our residents and staff. Throughout the month of March, you will meet some of the faces behind the departments across our centers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
TRUMBULL, C.T. — It was what Clara Merva saw on television at a young age that inspired her to pursue a career in social work.
Merva is the Director of Social Services at Maefair Health Care Center in Trumbull, Connecticut. Born in Portugal, she moved to Connecticut with her family when she was 10 years old. She didn’t speak English and would watch soap operas while learning the language. There was a character in the drama series One Life to Live who had multiple personalities and intrigued Merva. At age 11, she know social work would be her life’s work.
“In my mind, I wanted to understand how the brain worked and why that would happen and really fell in love with social work, and helping others and mental health issues,” Merva said.
She has been at Maefair since 2011 and prior to that worked at a fellow-Athena facility, Northbridge Health Care Center in Bridgeport, for five years. Before joining Athena, she worked at another Bridgeport facility. Now, being at Maefair going on 12 years, she said, “Why leave a good thing.”
As Director, Merva helps residents go through the admission process, assists and manages discharge planning, coordinates care plan meetings, and much more. She loves being able to help others and offer them support.
In some cases, she explains, how residents may not have a lot of family members who live in town or who are even involved in their care and she provides support in their transition to rehab to help meet their needs.
“Some of our individuals in this facility, they don’t have a lot of family involvement… so just to be the listening ear, and be their support as they’re by themselves in a new environment,” she said. “It’s nice that they are able to connect with someone and sometimes it’s as easy as [a resident saying], ‘I just need five minutes out of your day because I just need someone to talk to and this is what’s going on.'”
She said the residents are receptive to her and her team and Merva enjoys building those connections with them. Sometimes the residents need emotional support to cope with their situation, and Merva is happy she’s in a position to be that helping hand.