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As a military social worker, it is possible to note that Shaneka Wilks and her injured husband James Wilks need close collaboration with a specialist to learn to cope with their problems. First of all, it is physical rehabilitation that is to be provided by the wife and the grandmother to James. Considering the reports of the staff, it is evident that Shaneka needs to receive relevant education regarding the physical assistance to her husband to avoid excessive pushes and any harm to his health.
Second, this family needs some psychological help to realize their situation and understand how to support each other. Both his grandmother and wife love James, yet they cannot coordinate their actions regarding the therapy sessions. Therefore, it is necessary to communicate with both of them as care providers, explaining that the key goal is the maintenance and improvement of James’ health outcomes. There is a need for achieving a compromise and perceiving family members as a team. There is also a need to empower them to be active in addressing current problems.
Third, it is essential to communicate with James and understand his position and views regarding both physical and psychological rehabilitation. Taking into account that this is a young family, which has every opportunity to recover, there is a need to organize and lead them on the way to recovery.
The main challenge, in this case, is associated with recognizing and accepting a new way of life. In other words, the family members should understand that the occurred changes should be perceived as something that had happened, but not fatal.
The role of a military social worker is to help in the mentioned process. The interview with Shaneka revealed her emotional tension and the hidden desire to leave her husband. In fact, the latter may be the expression of fear and unawareness of how to act in the given situation. The lack of children is another challenge since their presence might facilitate rehabilitation and help Shaneka to cope with her negative thoughts and emotions.
The challenge for James is to come back to civilian life as well as his disability. Understanding that military culture differs from the civilian one, it is a challenge to help James to adjust to a new lifestyle and reduce his emotional strain. As reported by the wife of the patient, he sometimes forgets her name that creates the challenge of social adaptation. It is complicated than with the fact that the patient has little life experience and the subsequent weak self-determination. By supporting his social functioning, it is possible to address the above challenge.
The family is the key strength in the given case. Namely, its members are ready to help James as they stay with him in spite of difficulties (Rubin, Weiss, & Coll, 2012). At the same time, the fact the family has no children may be considered a strong point. This will allow the family to focus on James and provide the best care possible by working on proper relationships, communication, and physical health outcomes. One more opportunity is associated with their involvement in church in Charleston as the religious aspect may significantly promote the family recovery by providing them with the additional source of support. The identified strengths are to be used while planning and implementing the care plan for this patient.
Applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills, I would come up with social work theories and strategies to integrate family members. In particular, I will use the insights of the family systems approach, which focuses on the community involvement and unique characteristics of family members in their interrelation (Rubin et al., 2012). This approach considers the environment that affects the family as well as the existing strengths and suggests the appropriate interaction strategies.
For example, as a military social worker, I would recommend them to spend some time together at home or during religious events. The question of James’ discharge and the subsequent relocation to a long-term Veterans Affairs (VA) Rehab hospital near Charleston may be discussed later when the psychological atmosphere would be more prepossessing. It is expected that the effects of the family-based intervention would be the most relevant option.
More to the point, I would work on relationships between James and Shaneka to show them that a wife and a husband should be united in achieving the common goal. I would try to explain to the wife of the patient that he needs her assistance and care. The multifamily group treatment may also be applied to demonstrate that Wilks is not alone and that there is great potential to improve their life. Even though understanding human relationships is a great challenge, especially in times of crisis, mastering this field would promote progress in family interactions. It is essential to communicate with this family continuously to monitor any changes and adjust the approach to their recovery that would primarily be based on psychological and emotional indicators.
Rubin, A., Weiss, E. L., & Coll, J. E. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook of military social work. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.