Position: Social Worker
Organization: Leisure World, Seal Beach
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Cynthia Tostado graduated from California State University Long Beach with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work. She became a licensed clinical Social Worker in 2016 to better enhance her own knowledge and practice, and has worked as a Medical Social Worker for the larger part of her career in the Hospice field. For the last three years, Cynthia worked for the Golden Rain Foundation at Leisure World, Seal Beach, as their Member Resource Liaison.
Why should this person be nominated
As a Medical Social Worker for several hospice companies over the course of seventeen years, Cynthia had the opportunity to be a part of a person’s last journey. She told us, “It’s been a humble experience, as I had been allowed to walk with the patient and family during this sacred time. During my work as a hospice Social Worker, I discovered that I enjoyed working with the senior population, providing grief and loss counseling and finding resources for those that I was serving.”
Working for the Golden Rain Foundation has been an equally rewarding experience for her, as she has been able to broaden her wealth of knowledge with all the resources and community linkages for seniors. It gives her a great deal of pleasure to be able to link residents with services that will enhance their quality of life at home. Equally rewarding is seeing those same residents who were struggling and have now taken advantage of services and have improved their life. She shared, “Sometimes I feel that our seniors just need a listening ear and someone who can explain services in a simplistic manner. Change can be scary for our seniors and I find great satisfaction in empowering and advocating for those seniors that are looking for help.”
One example of Cynthia’s dedication is when she advocated for a gentleman in his early 60’s who had suffered a debilitating stroke that left him bedridden and being fed through a gastrostomy tube. He lived in a skilled nursing facility and had one friend who visited a few times a week. Every visit that she had with him, he pleaded, through his garbled language, to have something (anything) by mouth as he had nothing left to look forward to. After meeting him and listening to his anguish pleas, Cynthia spoke with the facility Social worker who arranged a care plan meeting to discuss his wishes. After several swallowing evaluations and having the ombudsman involved which took many months, he was allowed popsicles and other soft items which he was so grateful to have some sense of normalcy in his life.
Another example of Cynthia’s compassion is about a hospice patient who was also in a skilled nursing facility. He was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer, bedridden and very weak. He had two dying wishes, one was to reconnect with his only daughter which he had lost contact with, and second was to visit the horse races one last time. During her visits, he shared many fond memories of his horse racing days and the time he spent at the horse races with his friends. Together with the hospice nurse, Cynthia worked diligently with the Dream Foundation to give him a day at the races with his friend. This required a lot of coordination with a medical transport team, breakfast at his favorite spot, and the time at the horse race track. This was definitely a group effort in that they were able to take him out to breakfast to his favorite place with his friend and then off to the races all by gurney! He talked about his excursion for the next month with a huge beaming smile. Lastly, she was able to connect him back with his daughter, who was able to be by his side as he passed away peacefully.
These examples of advocating and providing special attention to these special people is what keeps Cynthia going in the Social Work field. Being a Social Worker definitely has its share of challenges, but she feels the rewards always outweigh the challenges.