Our People: Meet Elizabeth Hardy, clinical social worker, Transitional and Lifelong Care program
What do you know about the people you pass in the hall or see in the cafeteria every day? What do they do at St. Joseph’s? Here we will introduce you to a member of the St. Joseph’s family, recognizing their contribution to respect, excellence and compassion.
“Relationships are key,” says clinical social worker Elizabeth Hardy, who has worked within the Transitional and Lifelong Care (TLC) Program at St. Joseph’s Parkwood Institute since it was first established in 2015. “Connecting with people and letting them know that I am here to help is everything.”
In her role, Elizabeth works collaboratively with a team comprised of a physician, nurse practitioner, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist, and other allied health professionals to provide care to adolescents and adults (15 year of age or older) from Southwestern Ontario who have special health and rehabilitative needs related to a condition of childhood onset. This includes people with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Rett Syndrome, developmental delay, and others.
As a clinical social worker, Elizabeth meets directly with patients for clinical assessments and psychological support. She also connects with patients and their families to help secure appropriate funding and housing options, build rapport, and assist with the planning of life transitions, which includes transitioning into adulthood and coping with the loss of a caregiver or family member.
A Typical Day:
While her work days are varied, a constant for Elizabeth is ensuring that patients know that she is available to them when needed.
“Our team supports patients who have significant health care needs throughout their adulthood,” says Elizabeth. “As they transition into adulthood, difficult conversations and changing roles often occur within the family unit. Part of my role is to help patients, families and caregivers talk about these challenges and be an accessible point of resource for them.”
Establishing a sense of trust and a long-term connection is pivotal to her role. “I like to bring a touch of humanity when working with patients, families and caregivers,” says Elizabeth. “Whether it’s a bit of humour or sharing of stories – something that makes us all feel like we are in this together. It’s imperative for those I work with.”
“You are not alone,” says Elizabeth. “It’s a message we say here. Sometimes it brings an individual relief, but more importantly it brings a sense of hope. I am fortunate to work with an incredible team of health care professionals who all work together to improve the quality of life for the patients and families we serve.”
Just for fun:
Taking long strolls and hikes through the woods to connect with nature and unwind is not only enjoyable for Elizabeth, but helps her to recharge so she can be at her best for those she serves.
Advocacy at work:
Prior to the pandemic, Elizabeth also advocated for and organized the implementation of two self-management groups through the South West LHIN’s South West Self-Management Program.
The courses, Powerful Tools for Caregivers (PTC) and Living a Healthy Life (LHL), were offered to TLC patients and families. Both groups ran for six weeks and were free to participants, as the LHIN provided full funding for materials and facilitator education.
It’s was a great partnership,” says Elizabeth. “One of the unique aspects of these two groups is that co-facilitators are people with lived experience – a caregiver, a parent of an TLC patient, and a patient within the TLC program co-facilitate the groups. The groups brought people together, provided helpful tools and strategies for families and patients living with a complex medical health condition - and most importantly offered hope.”
Learn more about Parkwood Institute’s Transitional and Lifelong Care program