Meet Kara Alwine, MSW, Paradigm Health Social Worker.
Ask Paradigm Health certified social worker Kara Alwine to describe what she does every day and you most likely will hear her respond with tasks like assist, refer, support, help, and provide. But she doesn’t think of any of these offerings to hospice patients, their families, and caregivers as tasks. She’s helping these families navigate the end of life journey with compassion and treating them like her own family each step of the way.
“The most rewarding part of my job is walking alongside the patient and their family to help both come to terms with the end of life process and being part of a team approach to care that focuses on making sure they have the best quality of life they can have each and every day,” says Alwine.
Alwine holds a master’s in social work and started her career in community-based therapy but soon realized that she preferred working as a partner and resource for families with a loved one in hospice care. She typically gets involved with a patient and family after an initial intake of information by Paradigm Health staff indicates there is a need for social work to better help them throughout the hospice process.
“Once I become involved with a patient and their family, we create a needs assessment to secure resources that will help make life easier and more comfortable wherever hospice treatment may be received,” shares Alwine.
Included in the assessment may be referrals for:
Home Health Care Aides
Meals on Wheels
Once Alwine concludes her assessment and resources are secured, she continues as a support system for the patient and family and visits as often as necessary, usually twice a month but she shares that it is always based on the patient’s individual needs. “Some families require more assistance and some less. So,we make sure we are meeting the individualized needs of each and every patient.”
As part of end of life support, one of Alwine’s favorite parts of her job is to help a patient conduct a life review. A patient allows Alwineaccess to the stories of their life so that she can document and learn everything about them: What is important to them, what their life accomplishments have been, if there is something that they would still like to do. “It is an honor to share something so special with the patient and their family,” says Alwine.
Currently, one of Alwine’s patients is working with her to make a special item for each family member and is very passionate about completing the keepsakes before her passing. “She understands that her time is valuable and time sensitive and she is working to make sure she can leave something of herself for her family to remember her by. It is my honor to work alongside her to make sure that happens.”
The toughest part of Alwine’s job as a social worker is the closeness she feels for the patients and families she works with becoming a part of their family as she cares for them. Paradigm Health is committed to making sure that a holistic, team approach to hospice care allows for each and every day to be filled with as much joy and comfort as possible. As follow-up care, Paradigm Health also offers bereavement programs that allow for grief support and follows each family for up to 13 months. Caring for the family after the loss of a loved one is something not many hospice care companies provide but Alwine says that Paradigm makes it part of their caring and compassionate philosophy.
“The Paradigm Health philosophy for their patients is also what drew me to them as a company to work for,” shares Alwine. “They really value me as an individual, value my input, treat me like family, and offer assistance, education, and support to me at any time. They care about mywell-being and work-life balance which makes them truly the best company that I have ever worked for.”
Most families searching for a hospice care team are looking for someone to help guide them through this unknown process and do so with expertise, kindness, and a good ear. “Really, families and patients appreciate someone who can be a supportive resource but more importantly, an empathetic listener,” sharesAlwine. “I am really proud to be a part of the Paradigm Health team because we are committed to listening and then getting into action to provide the best care possible — every day matters.”