Why did you decide to study a degree in Social Work?
I studied a degree in Social Work after years working as a secretary. I wanted to acquire a certain level of commitment to society and be in a job that made me feel fulfilled, professionally speaking.
Do you think people know what a social worker does?
I think there's still a long way to go for people to acknowledge and put more value on the work that social work professionals do. Knowledge of social work is only acquired once contact is made with professionals, normally because a personal or family need arises, mainly during very trick times or crises and the care received is crucial.
Social workers in the health service assess and report on social aspects that may be beneficial to a patient's health and their social intervention focuses on accompanying users and their families during the health-disease process. This is in addition to all the work prior to evaluation until the point where the person becomes a patient at the Clinic. In our case, for example, we must take into account that this is a time when the effects derived from a loss of eyesight can dramatically change that person's life.
What's your typical working day like at the Barraquer Ophthalmology Centre? What are your main roles?
The social worker becomes the link between the Clinic and professionals in social organisations (social services, trusts, etc.) or the users themselves, before they become patients of the Barraquer Foundation. Once all the documentation has been received and an assessment of the potential patient's social risk has been drawn up alongside the Foundation team, access to the Foundation's financial aids granting medical treatment in the Centre is reviewed.
Once they become patients, it might be necessary to assess and inform the user or their family of the social problems they had or that may arise as a consequence of eye problems and, on many occasions, our job involves supporting them during the disease process right up to discharge.
In addition to direct patient care, I work on other Foundation tasks too.
What do you like most about your profession?
Seeing how people regain their confidence despite the difficulties encountered by being ill and achieving even a small transformation through lending professional support to patients and their families as they go through an illness.
What do you think of the Barraquer Foundation's new change of direction, which is now focused on local action?
Unfortunately we all know or have seen in the press the increase in cases of people from the local area with limited economic resources who may previously have been in a better financial situation and do not currently have enough to get by on a day-to-day basis. That's why supporting those with little or no income closest to us, enabling them to access ophthalmology services and thereby improve their quality of life, is necessary and commendable, too.
I'd like to think that my job a type of follow-on from the work performed over the Foundation's years in operation. Furthermore, the Foundation drives forward and encourages research into new medical treatments to help patients, and by doing so continues to support the high level of health care that sets our Ophthalmology Centre apart.
What part of your experience with the centre's patients stands out?
I'm really fortunate to work in an internationally renowned organisation, which has a wonderful medical team of nurses and other professionals; all the staff working at the Clinic use the most advanced technology. This combination allows so many people to regain or improve their eyesight— and with it, their lives too. Plus, I work with an excellent team at the Barraquer Foundation who respond to the necessities of the needy. Playing part of the inner workings and doing what I love makes working with patients a really satisfying experience.
You recently participated alongside the Barraquer Foundation in "La Ciutat dels Somnis", the new Children and Youth Festival. What did you think of the event?
Within the sphere of Barraquer Foundation's local efforts, it was a pleasure to participate in this event organised by the Fira de Barcelona and Educaweb which aims to make children aware of the ophthalmology profession. We managed to use games to teach kids what ophthalmologists and optometrists do. In addition to attracting a huge audience, the visitors felt it was a real success. I'd like to think that, perhaps in the future, some of those children will care for other people's eyes because they discovered the profession while playing a game as a kid...