2019 SCHA Awards
Outstanding Social Worker

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Roneet Cooper Roneet Cooper

Roneet Cooper

Position: Social Worker

Organization: Monarch Health Care, part of OPTUM


List your nominee's experience in Senior Care.
Roneet has been in health care since she graduated college in New York, in 1999, with her Masters in Social Work. Her first job was in an Independent Living Facility, and her passion for seniors blossomed. She and her husband lived and worked on the east coast until she received news that her father had been diagnosed with a terminal disease. They immediately made plans to move to California, where her parents lived, so that Roneet could help her mother make her father’s last months comfortable. After her dad’s passing, she worked for an assisted living in Orange County before moving to Monarch in their Supportive Care/Behavioral Health department about 2 years ago.

Describe how your Nominee has exceeded his or her Job Description, becoming a hero to you or others. Provide an example or as much detail as possible of the things that they do that go above and beyond their job description.
Roneet has said that she’s learned so much from the clients she’s served that she really feels they’ve given more to her than she to them. One such client was a woman in her late eighties – we’ll call her Ruth – that resided at the ALF Roneet worked at here in Orange County. Ruth was a holocaust survivor. She had an indomitable spirit, not surprising considering all she’d been through. But, unfortunately, her relationship with her children was very strained, with almost no contact between them. Roneet began spending more and more time with her until they had a standing “date” once a week. Ruth even taught Roneet to do beading, and made a bracelet together that Roneet still has to this day. And though it was against the rules, Roneet couldn’t help herself - she would go to the market for her to pick up special foods that Ruth liked, she’d stop at Target and get her little gifts, and just generally treat her like her own grandmother. Ruth and Roneet were talking one day, and Ruth told her, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you ‘no’ for an answer! If you can’t go through the front door, find a back door or side window to get through!” This became Roneet’s model – she never gives up when trying to find services for a client. If someone tells her “no,” she just looks for that side window!

Another client taught Roneet that what seems so routine for her can be a heavenly appointment for others. She recalls one client, let’s call this one Amy, that she stopped to see in her home. Amy was sitting on her sofa, crying because she was so lonely. She had some dementia, but was still fully able to express her loneliness and depression over her circumstances. Her caregiver was her daughter, a woman who was caring not just for Amy, but for a disabled child as well. She just didn’t have the capacity to supply all of Amy’s needs. Roneet immediately began working, assessing Amy for appropriate medical treatment for her depression, and finding a suitable Adult Day Health Care so both she and her daughter could have a break. Just a few months later, when Roneet visited, Amy rushed up to her, put her arms around her and called her “angel” over-and-over.

One thing Roneet always tells people in her field, especially anyone she’s training is, “There’s a story out there in everyone. Now, take the time to go find it!” Roneet always takes the time, and that’s why she’s a hero to her clients.