2017 Nominees Section
Position: Director of Social Services
Organization: The Pavilion at Sunny Hills
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Erika has been the Director of Social Services at The Pavilion at Sunny Hills skilled nursing facility in Fullerton for the past three years. She is also the on-call social worker for Vitas hospice on the weekends!
Why should this person be nominated
On any given day, you will hear Erika Duarte say "I love my job!"
Her love for serving seniors compelled her to put herself through the USC Masters program in Social Service and she is currently working on her Doctorate of Leadership and Gerontology from Concordia University Chicago.
Her love for helping vulnerable seniors began as she volunteered in high school about 16 hours a week at a nursing home in Fullerton. Her involvement there opened her eyes to how unique each of the residents are in that each patient has their own unique personal experience or struggle to share. Erika remembers a patient sharing her life story and the challenges she and her husband faced raising their three children in the very tumultuous times in the 1950s. After sharing her life story, she thanked Erika with tears in her eyes for taking the time out of her day to hear her talk about her experiences. Erika loves being an advocate for seniors by listening to their individual needs and being a guiding resource for them in any life stage. She also supports the family members by reassuring them, listening to them and providing them with support services. She not only supports the patient but the entire family. She often has family members drop into her office because they need encouragement.
Recently she noticed one of her patient's really found joy by using his iPad, cell phone and music electronics but there were not enough outlets in his room to support them. Knowing this was so important to his well being, Erika arranged for a special plug that would enable all of his devices to run smoothly.
Erika has a passion for educating families and students who work with seniors. She says there are so many ways to maximize a senior's life experience and she wants to share what she has learned with others.
Erika finds her hospice work on weekends especially fulfilling. She is honored to be on the poignant journey with families and she realizes they are typically in shock or grieving and are at a loss as to what to do. She gently guides them through the steps and helps the family make needed calls and takes care of paperwork to relieve the family of the necessary details.
Erika believes that well-managed hospice care can enable the patient to last as long as they can for the family, pain-free and alert, maximizing their quality of life.
Erika's passion is clear! Seven days a week she is serving our vulnerable seniors and being an advocate for their needs and quality-of-life. Thank you Erika, for your passion, your dedication to educating others and your willingness to go the extra mile for patients and families! You are an Outstanding Social Worker!
A Right Place for Seniors