National Social Workers Month

Social Workers – A Caring Profession

March is National Social Workers Month when we recognize the importance of social workers and the critical role they play in helping improve the lives of others. This year’s theme from the National Association of Social Workers is “Social Work Breaks Barriers,” which focuses on how social workers help individuals, families, and communities overcome personal, economic, and social challenges. Social work is considered a caring profession. Helping others and making the community a better place is a driving force in social work. 

Social Workers Break Down Barriers

Social workers are highly skilled professionals trained to examine and holistically address life’s problems. They elevate and empower people, giving them the ability to cope with personal roadblocks and help them navigate the health and social services network so they can get the resources they need. Social workers can be found in organizations throughout the community including schools, hospitals, clinics, senior centers, child welfare organizations, addiction treatment centers, and community-based organizations like Boston Senior Home Care. 

“A social worker’s role is to help individuals and families achieve their fullest potential, which often requires breaking down economic, social or political barriers to getting them the services they need,” said Susan Tena, MSW, LICSW, Senior Director of Program Development. “They help people overcome challenges by developing interventions or care plans to help them get the services and supports they need. For example, if a family is struggling to afford healthy food, a social worker can help them apply for nutritional assistance, such as SNAP.”

The primary mission of the social work profession is to help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. “At Boston Senior Home Care, our social workers are experts at understanding the needs of the culturally diverse and often underserved people we care for,” said Abigail Swanson, LICSW, Caregiver Advisor in the Caregiver Solutions program. “Many of our consumers live in difficult circumstances where emotional suffering and stress are commonplace including our caregiver and home care programs.  Social workers work collaboratively and individually and play a key role in connecting consumers with support services while acting as an advocate and advisor.”  

Connecting caregivers with in-home services and supports to help them care for an aging loved one or family member is a powerful example of how social workers make a difference in people’s lives. For example, they can help arrange for in-home safety modifications such as grab bars to be installed in the home, and arrange for respite care or an adult day health program.

Community-based organizations, such as Boston Senior Home Care, rely on the commitment, expertise, and compassion of social workers who work tirelessly to address the needs of those we serve. During Social Work Month, let’s take time to thank social workers for dedicating their lives to helping people live healthy and fulfilling lives.

If you need services and supports but don’t know where to turn, contact us. We are here to help you!


New Program Will Leverage WHO Model to Improve Access for People Experiencing Emotional Distress in Daily Living and Develop Skills of Non-Clinical Workforce to Support Them

BOSTON (Feb. 16, 2023) – The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation today announced it has awarded more than $850,000 in grants through a new program, Advancing Community-Driven Mental Health, to improve access to mental health services for adults experiencing mild to moderate distress and practical problems of daily living.

With its new, three-year grant program, the Foundation is taking an innovative approach to challenges in mental health care by leveraging an intervention developed by the World Health Organization. The WHO model, called Problem Management Plus (PM+), helps adults learn how to manage adversity and mental health stressors in their day-to-day lives and provides community-based referrals to those at risk of developing severe mental health challenges. The low-intensity psychological intervention also trains the non-clinical workforce to support people in mild to moderate mental health distress.

“Given the current state of the behavioral health crisis in Massachusetts, we believe it is critical to expand our knowledge of the role that non-clinical individuals can play in meeting the basic mental health needs of communities in a more socially and culturally relevant way,” said Audrey Shelto, President and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation. “The WHO model is an evidence-based intervention with demonstrated success that we are eager to evaluate further through our new grant program and determine how it may be adopted more widely across the Commonwealth.”

The Advancing Community-Driven Mental Health grant program supports five nonprofit organizations that are focused on housing, senior services, support for people with disabilities, and other non-clinical initiatives that provide direct social or community services to individuals and families. The following organizations have received $100,000 each through the first year of funding:

Boston Senior Home Care, which will work to improve access to community-based mental health services through its supportive housing program in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, including training tenant service coordinators.
Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee, which will focus on underserved individuals including low-wage earners, those with limited English language proficiency, people with disabilities, seniors and residents of subsidized housing.
Quincy Asian Resources Inc., which will train its family and community services coordinators to support the mental health challenges of clients who have an immigrant background, typically speak Chinese or Vietnamese and have experienced acculturation stress.
Stavros Center for Independent Living, which will implement the PM+ model to support people living with disabilities in western Massachusetts who have difficulty getting mental health services due to limited access to the internet and transportation.
The Community Builders Inc., which will focus on individuals with low incomes and often in need of mental health care who live in family-designated affordable housing in Boston, Mashpee and Worcester.

In addition, the Foundation is providing a total of $355,779 in grant funding to its two technical assistance partners, The Family Van and Partners In Health, which are supporting the development and implementation of the grant program. They are community-centered organizations with knowledge and experience with the PM+ model both locally and internationally.

“There is a need to increase the linguistic, racial and cultural diversity of the behavioral health workforce and to deliver mental health interventions in settings where people are already receiving services and support,” said Jacquie Anderson, the Foundation’s Senior Director of Grantmaking. “With specialized training, non-clinical staff members at the community-based organizations supported by our grant program can play an important role in meeting the basic mental health needs of individuals.”

About the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation

The mission of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation is to ensure equitable access to health care for all those in the Commonwealth who are economically, racially, culturally or socially marginalized. The Foundation was founded in 2001 with an initial endowment from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. It operates separately from the company and is governed by its own Board of Directors.

For more information, visit


Keeping Older Adults Active During Winter

Staying active can be a struggle for many of us. And, in the winter, it can be even more of a challenge. Yet, we know that physical activities and exercise can improve sleep, balance, circulation, and mood. All these benefits work to reduce blood pressure, complications from diabetes, and the risk of falling. The important thing is to find activities that are safe and fun. Below are some simple exercise ideas to stay active this winter in ways that are right for you.

Older adults taking part of a chair yoga class.
Older adults taking part of a strengthening exercise class.

Gentle exercises

  1. Stretchingone of the best ways to improve flexibility and prevent injury. Not only is it free, but you can do it just about anywhere. Stretch while lying in bed – move various body parts slowly and stretch stiff muscles. Stretching can be done with assistance or independently.
  2. Walking is another great low-impact activity. Walking around the house, yard, or outside for any amount of time is beneficial to the body and mind. This exercise can be done by yourself but it can be more enjoyable with another person.
  3. The sit-to-stand exercise is great for mobility and independence. The ability to stand up from a chair makes a huge difference in everyday life, especially for older adults. It helps with essential activities like getting up from the toilet, out of bed, or out of a chair. No equipment is needed and it can be done just about anywhere you put a chair.

Moderate exercises

  1. Tai Chi is a great moderate and low-impact exercise routine. Check out these easy and gentle Tai Chi routines.
  2. Household chores – believe it or not, cleaning up around the house can be great exercise. Activities like folding laundry, dusting, or light vacuuming can promote mobility and cardiovascular health.
  3. Chair yoga has many benefits including loosening and stretching painful muscles, reducing chronic pain, decreasing stress, and improving circulation. It also reduces anxiety, helps lower blood pressure, protects joints, and builds strength and balance.

    Throughout the year, the City of Boston’s Age Strong Commission hosts free virtual yoga and chair yoga classes. For more details and to register for activities and events, click here.

Advanced exercises

  1. Water exercise and swimming are low-impact activities that can help you stay in shape. It’s also an excellent alternative if you cannot go outside for long periods due to weather conditions or limited mobility. Swimming has many health benefits, including cardiovascular conditioning, improved strength, increased flexibility and balance, and weight control. Consider going with a friend to a local class at the YMCA or senior center.
  2. Dancing is a fun and engaging activity that doesn’t feel like exercise and can be done at your own pace. Play you and your loved one’s favorite music at home and have a dance party in the living room. Or, look for local social events.
  3. Strength training is a great way for older adults to maintain muscle mass and balance. It can also help maintain flexibility, bone density, and independence. Follow along with these strength training workouts from the National Institute on Aging. Remember to start slow and build up slowly. Pushing too hard doesn’t help and could cause injuries. Most important, consult your physician before starting any exercise routine.

    For strength and balance workshops in the city of Boston, check out the great health and wellness workshops offered by the Age Strong Commission, here.

Staying safe is the top priority

Exercise is beneficial in many ways, but the priority is to make sure you stay safe before, during, and after physical activities. Each person’s health and abilities are different, so it will take time to find the amount and type of physical activity that works well for you.

Safety tips:

  • Before starting, check with your physician to make sure that exercise is safe for you.
  • Check in with brief conversations during activities. If you can speak without being short of breath, the pace and exercise are comfortable. If you can’t hold a conversation because you’re breathing heavily, stop or slow the pace.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of water before, during, and after exercising.
  • Use the buddy system and partner with a friend or neighbor when exercising.
  • Some other ways to keep safe outdoors include wearing a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), or GPS tracker. These devices are particularly useful to help locate you in the event of an emergency.
  • If you or your exercise partner feel dizzy, weak, or are experiencing pain, stop immediately and rest. And, talk to your doctor about any future exercise.
Photo courtesy of UMass Boston.

A $410,00 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services enables UMass Gerontology to partner with Boston Senior Home Care, Mystic Valley Elder Services, Central Boston Elder Services, and Ethos Senior Care on a pilot internship and professional development program aimed at building the workforce in this critical field.

Read the full press release here.


Spending Time with Loved Ones

Holiday gatherings are cherished traditions for many families. It’s a time when we get to eat delicious food and enjoy being together. The holidays also allow us to spend time with older loved ones and note any changes in their health, or home environment. During your visit, you may see subtle or substantial signs that an older adult in your life needs help to safely age in place. It’s important to be proactive and keep your eyes and ears open.

A multigenerational family eats together at a dinner table. Older adults enjoying time with a younger child at the dinner table. It is important to watch older adults throughout your holiday visits.

Ten tips for observing older adults during your visit:

1. Do a home safety inspection. Make sure to test smoke alarms and check the house for loose wiring and improper lighting. Pay close attention while inspecting stairways and walkways. 

2. Take a look around the kitchen. Place dishes and pans on convenient, easy-to-reach shelves.

3. Assess the house for excess clutter, dust, or other signs that assistance with housecleaning is needed.

4. Check the refrigerator and pantry to ensure there’s enough food and other supplies. Ensure there are enough supplies for beyond the holidays.

5. Install grab bars in the bathroom.

6. Check for scatter rugs and uneven flooring that could cause a fall. Falls are one of the most dangerous problems for older adults.

7. Research local resources for older adults. Things like grocery delivery and transportation services can help keep them safe.

8. Know where important papers, such as insurance cards and advance directives are located.

9. Get an updated medication list from their doctor or pharmacy. Check medicine cabinets for expired medications.

10. Identify one or two neighbors who would be willing to drop in occasionally. Exchange phone numbers and e-mail addresses and encourage them to contact you if they have concerns.

If you think an older adult in your life needs assistance, such as personal care, medication reminders, or light housekeeping, Boston Senior Home Care can help. Our highly-trained staff will work with you to ensure that your loved ones remain safe and independent at home. 

For more information, call us at 617-292-6211 or email us at [email protected] 

National Family Caregivers Month

Today, there are more than 65 million family caregivers in the U.S.

That number is expected to grow each year, and many of us will eventually become or need a caregiver at some point in our lives.

In honor of National Family Caregivers month, we’ll describe what a caregiver is and the help available to them.

Are you a caregiver?

Put simply, a caregiver provides care for another person. They often care for older adults, and people with disabilities or illnesses. Generally, there are two kinds of caregivers, paid and trained professionals and unpaid family caregivers. Most people fall under the category of family caregivers.

Family caregivers usually provide care to a child, spouse, partner, other relatives, or a friend. They do it because they love and respect that person and want to be there for them, or out of a sense of duty or loyalty.

Family caregiving can be a rewarding experience. However, depending on the level of care someone needs, it can be challenging.

Services and supports are available

If you find yourself fitting the definition of a family caregiver, you’re not alone. There are many programs available to help you. One example is an Adult Foster Care or Adult Family Care (AFC) program. This program pays eligible caregivers to provide live-in care for someone who needs full-time care. You can find more information about AFC program requirements and benefits here.

Caregiver Solutions from Boston Senior Home Care offers help to caregivers. Our Caregiver Advisors will work with you to put a caregiving plan in place. Our services include:

  • In-home support, such as light housekeeping and meal preparation
  • Respite care, adult day health, and companion services
  • Caregiver counseling, education, and training
  • Referrals to social services and supports
  • Support groups to connect with other caregivers
  • Specialized support for older adults with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s Disease
  • User-friendly technology to keep everyone connected and engaged
  • Electronic pets that look and feel like real dogs and cats to help comfort loved ones with anxiety or dementia

There’s no charge for the program and enrolling is fast and easy. If you or a caregiver you know needs support, please call 617-292-6211 or submit an online referral.


Falls Prevention Awareness – Things you can do to prevent falls

September 18–24, 2022 is Falls Prevention Week, a national health campaign to raise awareness on preventing and reducing fall risks and helping older adults live without the fear of falls.

For an older adult, falls can be serious and costly. According to the CDC, each year, three million older adults are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries and one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or head trauma. In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion.

Falls are a threat to the health of older adults and can reduce their ability to remain independent and in their communities. However, falls do not have to be an inevitable part of aging. There are ways to reduce your chance of falling or help a loved one prevent falls.

Here are four things the CDC recommends to help prevent you or your loved ones from experiencing falls:  

1. Talk to your Doctor

  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk of falling.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines for any side effects that may cause dizziness or sleepiness.
  • Tell a provider right away if you fall, worry about falling, or feel unsteady.

2. Do Strength and Balance Exercises

  • Do exercises that make your legs, and core stronger and improve your balance. Ask your doctor about the best exercise program for you.

3. Have Your Eyes and Feet Checked

  • Have your eyes checked by a doctor annually. Get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for activities such as walking.
  • Have your healthcare provider check your feet once a year. Discuss proper footwear and ask whether seeing a foot specialist is advised.

4. Make Your Home Safer

  • Get rid of trip hazards (throw rugs, electrical cords, pet toys).
  • Add grab bars inside your shower or bath and next to the toilet.
  • Put railings on both sides of the stairs.
  • Make sure your home is well-lit.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on bathroom floors.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes around the house.

In addition to these useful tactics, Boston Senior Home Care offers a variety of health and wellness programs and healthy aging workshops that empower individuals to take charge of their health by learning self-care techniques and ways to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

To learn more about the programs we offer, click here.


Grandparents Raising Grandchildren – Back to School Help is Available

Students across the country are getting ready to board school buses for their first day of classes. New clothes and buzzing excitement for the opportunity to meet new friends and teachers.

Although a new school year means a fresh start, the post-pandemic world continues to place additional stressors on those raising and caring for school-aged children and young adults.

For grandparents raising their grandchildren, the academic year brings a unique set of challenges. Many grandparents find that raising grandchildren is much different from when they raised their children. And, in many cases, they weren’t expecting to need the financial resources and energy required to care for young children.

Grandparents are not the only ones experiencing difficulty when the back-to-school season begins. Children being raised by their grandparents often struggle academically and require extra help.

For many children, afterschool programs provide the added support they need. Consistent participation in these programs can help improve academic performance, boost class participation, and develop critical social skills.

But, how do grandparents get assistance with the educational needs of their grandchildren?

Boston Senior Home Care is here to help! We offer a variety of services and supports, including one-on-one counseling, assistance with school clothes and supplies, scholarships for afterschool programs and tutoring, referrals to foster care and guardianship resources, and financial assistance, such as the SNAP food assistance program, and more.   

Do you know grandparents raising grandchildren? Refer them to Boston Senior Home Care.

To learn more about the ways we can help, contact us at [email protected] or visit


The Importance of Culturally Responsive Aging and Mental Health Services

In a recent MAMH blog, “Culturally Responsive Aging and Mental Health Services,” Nandy Barbosa discusses the importance of her work as a former MSW intern and bilingual case manager at Boston Senior Home Care. Having migrated from Cape Verde with her family in 2019, Nandy shares her unique insight into the importance of providing culturally responsive care to ethnically diverse older adults. Read the full interview here.


Social Media – Keeping Kids Safe Online

Social media is part of our everyday lives and there is no way around it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat – we all know these apps. But, are they safe for children and teens? Much has been reported about kids being exposed to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, trolling and privacy risks on social media. So, how can parents keep their children safe online? First, let’s examine the safeguards already in place.

Most social media apps require users to be at least 13 years old.  In fact, 20 years ago, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was created to give parents control over what information is collected from their children online. COPPA requires websites and online services to obtain consent from parents before collecting personal information from children younger than 13. Under the law, parents and guardians have the right to review their child’s information, delete it, and refuse to permit further collection of personal data.

Although legislation can help protect children, it’s important that you talk with your kids about using social media wisely. Here are some tips.

  1. Establish an age limit based on facts.  Some studies show that children younger than 11 years old who use Instagram and Snapchat are more likely to exhibit problematic behavior including having online-only friends and showing signs of anxiety and irritability.
  1. Monitor without spying. Regularly check your child’s privacy settings.  Most social media sites give you the option of making the account private and open only to those that have been “friended.” Check on what information they are viewing and responding to. Learn about new apps to make sure they are appropriate.
  2. Protect their privacy. Make sure personal information including phone numbers, location, and date of birth are not shared with anyone you and your child does know personally.  Only accept friend requests from people they know.  Make sure they understand that posting photos and videos can jeopardize their safety and character.
  3. Limit screen time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screentime to two hours a day for children.  Children need plenty of face-to-face interactions and physical activity.
  4. Talk about social media use and keep lines of communication open. Remind your child that what they share online stays there forever – even on apps that are supposed to delete content.  Before sharing they should ask themselves: Is it illegal? Harmful to me? Embarrassing to me or someone else?  You can’t monitor your child’s social media 24/7 so maintaining communication and modeling good social media habits in front of your child can help them with their own social media interactions.

Social media can be great for kids to stay connected with friends and family, volunteer or get involved in the community, meet and interact with others who share similar interests and communicate with teachers and other students. But, parents must remain vigilant in safeguarding their children in the digital age. Luckily, there are online resources to help you navigate social media and talk to your children about online safety:

  1. Commonwealth of Massachusetts –
  2. Online Safety for Children – City of Boston
  3. Online Community and LGBTQ+ Youth
  4. Child Welfare Information Gateway
  5. Commonsense Media
  6. Parentology