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Tarrytown Elder Care Advocate Approaches Work With Dignity, Respect

Sherry Saturno of Tarrytown is an award-winning elder care advocate.
Sherry Saturno of Tarrytown is an award-winning elder care advocate. Photo Credit: Daily Voice File photo
  • Who: Sherry Saturno, Tarrytown
  • What: Director of Social Services at Sprain Brook Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scarsdale
  • The latest: Last month was named the Champion of Social Justice award winner by the National Association of Social Workers for New York

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Since she was a child, Tarrytown’s Sherry Saturno recognized the importance of treating all people with dignity and respect. The demographics have changed, from helping kids harmed by school bullies to seniors coping with declining health, but her passion and commitment to have people treated with respect and dignity has remained consistent.

“I think one of the most important things I can do is let people know they're not alone,’’ said Saturno, the Director of Social Services at Sprain Brook Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scarsdale. “It doesn't matter what the circumstances are."

Saturno is a specialist in the field of aging, and last month was awarded the statewide Champion of Social Justice Award by the National Association of Social Workers for New York. The award recognizes an individual for outstanding advocacy on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed groups.

At Sprain Brook, Saturno meets with residents and families to provide support and services for residents who require short- and long-term care. “Every nursing home strives to meet residents' needs,’’ Saturno said. “I think what’s unique about Sprain Brook is a focus on the needs of the individual and person centered care. There is an opportunity to make a positive difference in someone's life every day."

Saturno said the first step it to assess the needs of residents. “The interdisciplinary team evaluates residents' medical, nursing, rehabilitative, recreational, social, and psychological needs,’’ Saturno said.

Saturno finds that residents' needs change, and are frequently different for short- and long-term patients. She said Sprain Brook takes a team approach that tailors programs to the needs of individuals.

Saturno appreciates the ability to make a difference in someone's life, and particularly enjoys working in elder care. "I've found that sometimes elders may feel disempowered, especially if they are first entering a long term care setting,’’ Saturno said. “I like to help elders realize that while the circumstances of their lives have changed, they can lead engaging and vibrant lives."

Saturno has received numerous honors in her profession. She was awarded the Business Council of Westchester’s “Rising Star” Award, National Association of Social Workers' Social Worker of the Year for New York State as well as Westchester County, and has just been selected as one out of 10 noteworthy social workers in the country by Social Work Today Magazine and will be featured in their January/February 2017 issue.

One of her most impressive accomplishments was a documentary, “Human Investment,” about elders, educators, and caregivers. It won the 2016 National Media Award for Best Documentary Film by the National Association of Social Workers. The Scarsdale Public Library will host a screening of the film on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m.

“I was inspired to explore what motivates professionals to invest themselves in the humanity of care,’’ Saturno said. “The film tells a unique story. Social workers, nurses, and physicians are all heroes in a million different ways, and their work often goes unnoticed. I wanted to highlight how caring and supportive these professionals are, and why their work speaks volumes about the humanity of care. My hope is that people see themselves in the film and that identification makes it relatable and real.”

Saturno said she was surprised by the popularity of the film. “I was deeply honored,’’ she said. “I'm very grateful if my work resonates with others. I think people can relate to the endeavor of helping others as being universal.”

Awards and recognition are nice, but Saturno finds her own rewards in treating people with dignity and respect amid significant challenges. That’s been her primary focus throughout her career.

“My goal is to keep in mind the needs of residents and families,’’ Saturno said. “ I remember that patients and families entering a nursing home are grappling with multiple issues- feeling overwhelmed, afraid, and uncertain of what the future will hold. I want to understand where they are coming from and be compassionate."

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