International Women’s Day 2023 – Embracing Equity with Social Worker Vanessa Portlock
Role: Social Worker
Department: Child Youth and Family
Who do you primarily work with day to day
As a social worker on the Perinatal, Neonatal and Pediatric unit my day to day work varies. I support women and their families throughout her pregnancy to the birth of her baby, and can include high risk pregnancies, prenatal substance use, mental health concerns, domestic violence issues, socioeconomic concerns, poverty, homelessness, pregnancy loss. My work on the Pediatric unit includes working with families of children who present with health, and or mental health concerns.
How long have you been in the health care field?
I have been in the health care field for a number of years starting in Community Health services with Island health, then finding my way to a hospital setting where I gained experience as a social worker in Acute care and the Renal department before working in the Child Youth and Family Unit of the hospital.
What is one of the most Challenging yet rewarding parts of being a women in your career?
One of the most Challenging parts of my work is the gaps in much needed services and supports that can have negative impacts on health outcomes for women and children. Tasks needed to make changes can feel overwhelming when considering the resources that have to be mobilized to address the gaps.
Most rewarding is the recognition of the value of advocacy to bring attention to what needs to change. In my working career I have seen individuals coming together to speak about solutions, create opportunities with community partners to address the gaps in services and resources to come up with concrete solutions.
Most rewarding is the ability to access funding support for families when they are facing a crisis. The ability to access funding for accommodation if a family is facing a medical emergency and not in their home community has played a key role in alleviating stress, helping the family to focus on being present for their sick family member.
How do you support other women in your department/ward/field
I work as part of a team. With team members I engage in ongoing conversations, encourage self-reflection to examine our biases, beliefs and prejudices and how this may impact interactions. Education is used to provide knowledge and understanding for example of the impact of colonization, trauma, addressing unjust and unfair practices, fostering compassion.
When considering the theme “embracing equality”
I believe change starts with you and me, a change in behavior, attitude, questioning unfair and unjust practices, drawing attention to the beliefs and attitudes, ideas that are harmful, envisioning a world where diversity is celebrated, and the value of each individual is seen and acknowledged regardless of orientation, race, background and different abilities. Like a pebble that is thrown into a lake as we collectively stand together to embrace equity the ripples become waves of change.
My personal side
In my spare time I am happiest spending time with my family, going on hikes, exploring new areas, I enjoy photography and playing with paint, I am mindful to practice gratitude.