Social Worker Dynamic Duo Found at Home Health

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Social Workers Renee Saito (pictured on the left) and Kris Ho are the dynamic duo of Home Health by Hale Makua, and we're fortunate to have them. In celebration of National Social Work Month, we sat down with Renee and Kris to talk story about what the role of a Home Health Social Worker looks like, what sets them apart from our Long Term Care Social Workers, and what has kept them at Hale Makua for so many years. Their love for our clients and passion for the work they do every day was clear from the stories they told about going above and beyond to get the clients the care and services they needed in a time when resources seemed scarce on Maui.

Renee was the first Social Worker to be hired for Home Health by Hale Makua in 1983, a time when resources for bed bound individuals on Maui were next to none. She fondly remembers doing whatever she could to get clients and their families whatever resources available. “I had a client who was going to need a ride to his appointments, and someone to pick up his medications. His wife didn’t know how to drive and they didn’t have any family or support on Maui. So, I did the only thing I could think of, I taught his wife how to drive.” It took 16 visits for Renee to teach her client’s wife to drive, all of which Medicare happily paid for after she explain her care plan and reasoning. “It definitely takes a village. We learn to network well in the community and work with other Social Workers and providers to get the services that our clients need.”

Renee has worked in a different areas at Hale Makua Health Services, but Home Health is where she started and where she came back to. “Many things in Social Work in the home health setting over the years, with different insurance guidelines, and resources have changed, but the heart of it has stayed the same. Maintaining our client’s safety and well-being is still our top priority.”

Kris joined Hale Makua in 1998, and worked in a number of different programs within our organization.  She started as a Social Worker in Home Health, moved to our Wailuku campus as a Social Worker for Long-Term Care residents, and then came back to Home Health. “There’s something really special about Home Health and Social Work. You get to be in an individual’s home, get a deeper understanding of who they are, what their barriers and strengths are, and connect with them on a deeper level.”

The difference that Home Health Social Work carries, seems to be a driving force behind the commitment that these two incredible women have for Home Health by Hale Makua and their clients. Renee says, “There’s something about going into someone’s home, and getting a feel for the way they live. It’s a constant reminder that we are all different, we all come from different paths in life, and no matter where we live or what our conditions are. I think it’s made me realize that we are all just trying to do the best we can to take care of ourselves with what we have.” Kris added, “going into our client’s homes reminds us to accept people for who they are. Our job is to be supportive, share options and resources, educate and plant seeds to help each person grow.”

Over the years, Social Work in the home health setting has seen a lot of changes. With the healthcare field continuously evolving, our Home Health team has to be able to accommodate those changes. Something that has come fairly easy thanks to the incredible support that Kris and Renee receive from the entire Home Health team. “We have such a great interdisciplinary team. We all work so well together and contribute wherever we can to help our clients and their family succeed.” Renee shared.

We are incredibly lucky to have these dedicated and hardworking Social Workers at Hale Makua supporting our Maui community.

Tags: Home Health