What kind of things do you grow

When things get too much

On April 1, 2020, the social service of the BERGISCHEN health insurance company will celebrate its three-year anniversary. No joke! We took this as an opportunity to talk to Simone Haferkorn, a qualified social pedagogue and addiction therapist, about the social service and to look back a little on the past three years and at the same time focus on the current Corona crisis.

First of all, congratulations on your three-year service anniversary!

Simone Haferkorn: Many Thanks! (laughs) It's amazing how time flies and what has already happened in three years of social service.

You have already chosen the appropriate transition. What exactly is social service?

Simone Haferkorn: The social service is, so to speak, a first and often recurring point of contact for our policyholders and their relatives who want individual and confidential advice on social issues. Thematically, for example, questions about care, addictions, diagnoses, illnesses, but also domestic violence. I try to help those affected directly on the phone and go through possible options on how the BERGISCHE health insurance company can act. If this is the case, I will connect the caller to one of our specialist departments in-house or recommend an external service, for example an advice center or self-help group. So I think about which of the offers of help make sense at which point in time and accompany the people until they are well communicated. A team from different departments is at my side during these considerations. The colleagues from the social service team worked in their “previous lives” in the care sector or as medical assistants and are now social security clerks. So technically they are very well positioned. The aim is always to offer fast, tailored and sustainable help.

And how does the contact work?

Simone Haferkorn: As a rule, the insured people call me because they have heard of our service, my colleagues recommended it to them or they have read about it in the (Editor's note: The BERGISCHEN Krankenkasse customer magazine). I advise, mediate and accompany those affected mostly by telephone, at our location in Heresbachstrasse (editor's note: Heresbachstrasse 29 in Solingen, head office of the BERGISCHEN health insurance) or at home with the insured. So that is very individual and different. It is always great when those affected seek help at an early stage. But it's never too late to get out there and seek change.

How many people are you currently working with or how many currently need your advice?

Simone Haferkorn: There are currently 380 ongoing cases. That sounds like a lot at first, of course. But it differs from case to case how intense and frequent the contact is. Nevertheless, there is a tendency for the social service to be used more and more and to be accepted and recognized as such. Of course, there are also bad fates when your partner has died and you are sick or disabled yourself. Or when it comes to psychological problems, which often have a long and sad story behind them.

These are poignant examples that go very close.

Simone Haferkorn: Yes, in any case. But over time you find ways so that it doesn't affect you so emotionally. You just have to gain distance and create a balance. This is important for day-to-day work, otherwise, of course, professionalism will suffer. Before and after work I go for a walk with my dog ​​Kalle, a Spitz-Terrier mix, and I can clear my head quite easily. Very often when I go for a walk I come up with other ideas on how I can help those affected. In that sense, I clear my head and at the same time fill it with spontaneous ideas and ideas (laughs). Oh, and Kalle is often present at meetings and is perceived very positively by customers. But he's not a trained therapy dog ​​(laughs).

Let's talk about the current corona crisis. Do you feel a change? Are more people calling?

Simone Haferkorn: You definitely notice an increase in phone calls. At the moment I am increasingly in contact with older and previously ill people who feel isolated and lonely and sometimes also do not know how to do their shopping. I listen to people, like to take time for their worries and fears and give them other telephone numbers and offices where they can get either psychological or practical help. Fortunately, here in Bergisch there are some offers of help from the social associations, volunteer agencies, etc., which are available to the people at short notice and unbureaucratically. Despite the coronavirus, the full range of social services is available by telephone. This is important to me to emphasize at this point.

That's good to hear. Let's hope that the situation will soon ease again for everyone involved.

Simone Haferkorn: One can really only hope so ...

Perhaps something positive at the end: What was your absolute highlight in the past three years in the social service?

Simone Haferkorn: Phew, a good but also very difficult question. I don't think there ever was this one outstanding highlight. When I look back, it is generally the positive feedback from those affected. If, weeks or months later, someone contacts me again to thank me for the help they gave me at the time, to hear that it helped people further, even if it was perhaps just simple information or mediation, then I am filled with joy and mine Heart opens It's always a nice experience. At the same time, it also strengthens the bond that you build with people over time, especially if you got to know them personally in a one-on-one conversation.

From your personal point of view, what is special about the social service?

Simone Haferkorn: The special thing about social service is that every case is unique and I get to meet really great people. But what needs to be mentioned again at this point: The BERGISCHE health insurance is one of the very few health insurance companies that offers this special service. And you can see that this offer has been very positively received. So when there is a need for discussion and clarification: I am always there for our insured.

Thank you very much, Ms. Haferkorn. And please stay healthy!

The interview was conducted by Michael Ganter from BERGISCHEN health insurance.