In hospice care, the social worker is an essential member of the team. As someone who has had specialized training in end-of-life care, their insights, support, and recommendations can vastly improve the experience of the patient and his or her family. They are concerned with enhancing the quality of life and promoting well-being for patients, families, and caregivers.
Social workers have in-depth knowledge and expertise in working with those from diverse ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds. Some of the valuable services a hospice social worker provides include:
- Contacting local agencies and/or community resources that may be of help to patients and families such as Meals On Wheels, Life Alert, etc.
- Ensuring the patient’s end-of-life wishes are documented and known by assisting with advance directives, do not resuscitate (DNR), or Power of Attorney forms.
- Assisting survivors with necessary arrangements and paperwork after death occurs including funeral arrangements.
- Assisting survivors in obtaining appropriate grief counseling.
- Identifying the emotional and spiritual needs of the patient and their loved ones and finding appropriate support as needed.
Throughout the extent of hospice care, the hospice social worker will actively advocate for the needs of the patient and family by helping them navigate planning for end-of-life care, conducting psychosocial assessments and educating patients and families regarding all the resources available to them. The role of a hospice social worker also includes advocating for each patient’s end-of-life wishes and assisting them with addressing the emotional aspects of late-stage illnesses.
Hospice care social work is challenging work, as it involves helping people through difficult and stressful times of their lives. However, the rewards include making strong connections with people, learning and celebrating their life stories, and having a positive impact on patients and their families.