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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Social Worker Honored for Going Above, Beyond

Commercial Appeal

By, Meghan Laverty

Memphis social worker Terry Durham has been chosen as the recipient of the Crossroads Hospice "Caring More" award.

In a move to honor social workers and their advocacy for those in need, Crossroads Hospice launched the "Caring More" award for a social worker who goes above and beyond for his/her patients and community.

At a breakfast in her honor, Durham received a $500 cash prize and $500 to present to the nonprofit organization of her choice -- the Church Health Center, which provides affordable health care for working, uninsured people and their families.

As director of social services, Durham provides counseling to residents and families, discharge planning, referrals to support services and staff education. She has served as an administrator of several area nursing homes, and credits these experiences for her expertise on providing quality care to residents and families, as well as staff support.

She also served as volunteer program director of the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, overseeing grant maintenance, volunteer recruitment and planning its annual Caregivers Conference.

Despite her range of administrative experience, her true passion is with direct resident care.

"My career has come full-circle," Durham said. "I began as a social worker at a nursing home, and now I'm back where I'm supposed to be -- with residents."

Durham is committed to taking a holistic approach to resident care. "There are people who come to us with heavy loads and not a whole lot of support, but we're committed to connecting our residents with the resources they need," she said.

Sometimes it's a pair of shoes, or it can be discussing end-of-life choices. "We can't change some outcomes. But we can make it so no one feels they are taking a journey by themselves."

She co-developed a youth-education program, which works to instill the value of having older people as friends and mentors in students. The program won the Innovative Programming Award from the Tennessee Health Care Association and is being applied at select private schools in Memphis through Signature Healthcare.

Durham has been named THCA's Social Worker of the Year and was given Signature Healthcare's Champion Award for excellence in performance two years in a row.

Active in her church, Durham serves as chairwoman for the Spiritual Formation Committee and the Administrative Council. She teaches adult Sunday school and participates in various outreach programs such as serving meals at St. John's Soup Kitchen and the Wesley Foundation serving teens in Tennessee.

She is also an active member of Memphis' Council of Aging to promote services for seniors in the community.

"Social workers are the unsung heroes we depend on every day. They go out of their way to connect the ill to resources, counsel their families and give them the special time and attention they need," said Jean Harrison, executive director of Crossroads Hospice in Memphis. "Terry exemplifies what it means to go the extra mile for her clients, their families, her colleagues and community, and we are delighted to honor her as the recipient of the Caring More award."

Meghan Laverty is with Simon Public Relations Group.

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