Social workers are an integral part of the hospice care team, providing emotional, social, and practical support to patients and their loved ones. When facing a life-limiting illness, people are often under a great deal of stress and have very complex needs. Social workers are experts in these issues and are able to help patients and their loved ones adjust, cope, and plan for the journey ahead.
Here are just a few ways our social workers make a difference:
Planning for the Journey Ahead
At this time in someone’s life, there are many decisions to be made. The team member best suited to assist with these decisions is the hospice social worker. They can answer questions, provide information about available resources, and help people complete important end-of-life paperwork like advance directives and POLST forms.
Talking through these types of decisions with a social worker can bring comfort and clarity about the choices being made, and help patients decide how they want to live their lives at the end of life. The social worker then serves as an advocate, helping to ensure their end-of-life wishes and goals of care are met.
Offering Emotional Support
Social workers are one of two types of counselors available to hospice patients and their loved ones. People often experience complex emotions during the end-of-life journey. Social workers are a compassionate presence for the patient and their loved ones. It can be very helpful to have a social worker listen and validate what you’re going through.
They can also help caregivers cope with sadness or grief by providing education about what can be expected at the end-of-life. Caregivers often feel helpless and experience strong emotions when they don’t understand what is happening or what will happen next. The social worker can offer strategies and resources to help.
Connecting to Community Resources
When facing a life-limiting illness, it is not uncommon for people to need additional support of some kind. An important role of the hospice social worker is to help patients, their loved ones, and their circle of support navigate and connect to community resources. This may include things like:
- Determining eligibility for financial and other types of assistance
- Helping apply for benefits, including Medicaid or Veterans Benefits
- Providing information and referrals for in-home caregiving assistance
- Arranging for care facility placement or respite care
At Hospice of the Northwest, social workers are vital in providing the highest quality of care possible. They walk alongside our patients and their circles of support throughout the end-of-life journey. By tending to their emotional, social, and practical needs, social workers allow our patients to live each day to the fullest, in compassion and dignity. Learn more here.