Licensed Master Social Worker Vicki Poleni recently began working in association with Plachta, Murphy & Associates, P.C. in an advocacy role.
With more than twenty-three years' experience in behavioral health care, hospice, advanced care planning, and medical system management, Poleni specializes in advocacy for clients and their families in proactive steps, as well as current medical needs in decision-making and information.
Poleni's current role is the product of her past experience, and her desire to do more. "In my experience in the medical field, I learned incredible lessons about patient choice. The base of who I am came from there—making sure the person you love is getting what they need. This only truly comes when all the options are clearly understood by whoever has to make the decisions."
Poleni noted that many doctors often only have about fifteen minutes to spend with patients, and while doctors need formulate a plan of action in that amount of time, it often doesn't sit well with patients or their families. "I wanted to slow it down," Poleni said, explaining that often, questions don't arise until there's been time to contemplate what a doctor has said, or after a nurse has conducted a home visit. Poleni strives to fill this gap and advocate on behalf of her clients. "I want you to know that you have the right to take it from 'start' to when you say 'finish.'"
The connection between attorneys and social workers may not seem an obvious one to many. However, consider the case of a divorce that has left both parties emotionally empty, or the case of an elderly man living alone with no one to advocate for him or his future after a fall at home, or even the case of a family trying to determine the best way to get care for their ailing mother. Each is an example of people who need the support of the law, as well as the expertise of an independent advocate.
Poleni seeks to assist families in getting through rough times, help them explore options, and facilitate the decision-making process. If a doctor recommends that hospice is appropriate for a patient, family members may have a lot of questions about how that is going to work. Addressing concerns and answering questions about the process is part of the service Poleni provides. Additionally, Poleni can help families navigate through barriers and meet legal obligations—always with her alliance being her client. "Medical systems are becoming so large that sometimes the patient's needs can get lost." Another example includes helping people understand there are several providers of this care. "If one provider has a long waiting list, and if you don't know any better, you might feel you have no choice but to wait."
While the situations presented might seem as though they would make for a stressful work environment, Poleni has a different way of looking at it. "It's happening anyway. I look at what I can do to help—to take some of the pain away." Seeking to understand and help is at the heart of what Poleni does. "A true social worker can learn to love anyone, if you know their story. You have to seek to understand. We don't have enough of that—it's what I want this to be."
Poleni is gratified by Plachta, Murphy & Associates, P.C. having helped to create a platform to offer her services. "They have the creativity and spirit—I knew I could do this work better with their help. It's affirming that they see the value in doing something more for their clients than offering a referral and hoping it works out."
Poleni offers initial one-hour complimentary consultations and can assist with a variety of concerns, including family conflict guidance, dementia education, support, and advocacy; independent living, assisted living, nursing home, and other adult care facility coordination; and a variety of other services. Click here to learn more.
Written by Jennifer Reynolds, staff writer at West Michigan Woman.