What it's Like to be an EveryStep Hospice Social Worker: Sarah Adamson

Each day, more than 680,000 social workers provide care and education to the country’s most vulnerable community members. That’s no different at EveryStep Hospice, where social workers spend their days assisting patients and their families to manage the ongoing challenges related to serious illness and advanced care needs.

At EveryStep Hospice, social workers provide emotional support and education to families and patients on a number of topics, including finances, caregiving, and end-of-life planning.

In recognition of National Professional Social Work Month, EveryStep highlights the difficult, but ultimately rewarding care, hospice social workers provide for Iowans.

In Mount Ayr, Sarah Adamson has dedicated her time and energy to ensuring patients and their families experience quality support and compassion while in EveryStep’s care. 

Adamson began her journey with EveryStep nearly 16 years ago. But her desire to help others began long before she joined the Mount Ayr hospice team.

"When I went to school, I wanted to go into communications, and I took some general education classes. One class was about society and one section was on social workers, what they do and accomplish," she recalls. "It made me realize that was the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to make a difference and wanted to help people."

And that's exactly what Adamson sets out to do each day as she visits patients and their families.

“I enjoy my job every single day,” Adamson said. “I love meeting people, listening to their stories and finding out who they are. But I also like being able to meet their needs and helping them at a time where most people will disappear. When it comes to end of life and death and dying, most people don’t know how to deal with it, so they kind of disappear. At EveryStep, our nurse, hospice aide, spiritual care counselor, and volunteers, we all want to go in and provide more support, more attention, and love to the patient.” 

From helping families traverse the financial aspects of their care, to facilitating quality-of-life wishes for patients, EveryStep social workers like Adamson are there to lend a helping hand. 

For instance, EveryStep social workers are at the forefront when it comes to ensuring patients find quality of life on their terms. Through EveryStep’s Quality of Life program, social workers discuss with patients and their families any hardships they are currently facing and any final wishes or lasting memories they would like to achieve.

In one instance, Adamson remembers a patient who was dying of cancer. The woman’s daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild lived hundreds of miles away. Adamson set to work, with the help of the EveryStep Foundation, to arrange and assist in paying for the woman’s family to fly in from out of state so she could meet her granddaughter for the first time.

Another time, Adamson and her team assisted a male patient who only had the clothes on his back. Before the man was moved to a care facility, EveryStep was able to ensure he had a week’s worth of new clothing, providing him with dignity and comfort.

“I’m not an ’I’ person, I’m a ‘we’ person,” Adamson said. “We focus on what the team has done for patients. Even if I have done something, it’s the team. Sometimes it’s just the little things.”

No matter how Adamson and her team are able to help patients and families in their community, she feels blessed to be there, lending a hand.

"Sometimes it's just saying 'I'm here for you,'" Adamson says of helping her patients. "I'll talk to you no matter how long it takes. It's such a blessing that they have invited me into their lives."

"In 15 years I've been here, we've only taken care of the best people," she says. "All our patients are special and hold a special place in our hearts. We really do become a family."