Hospice social workers advocate for the patient’s wishes at the end-of-life process and help them address their emotional needs during this trying time. These workers also help families identify other resources and services that can help them out in addition to hospice care.
The first thing social workers must do is EVALUATE. They assess the situation that the patient is in from a strategic and long-term perspective. The hospice must constantly determine attributes, needs, support systems, and perception during the process of terminal illness. The evaluation leads to better understanding of the issues at hand, which leads directly to patient-centric plans that benefit both patient and family.
The second thing is EDUCATING. Most people have experienced the loss of loved ones in the past, but haven’t ever had the experience of losing the person in particular that’s receiving hospice care. Fear of death and fear of the unknown is a common part of the end-of-life process. Our social workers help patients and their families prepare by guiding them in what to expect throughout the process. We let patients and families know about the resources that they can access to help them. We also help them accept their emotions and let them know that these are normal and nothing to feel guilty about.
The third thing social workers do is ADVOCATE. We assist individuals in articulating their end-of-life needs, fears, and wants. We treat our patients as the best and most knowledgeable experts on their own needs. Sometimes, we advocate for the patient’s last wishes when they can’t speak due to illness or related circumstances. Our patients all deserve to have a voice and can be confident that we ensure their decision-making is always in their hands.
Finally, our social work team PARTICIPATES in the journey with our patients and their families. We frequently find ourselves discussing the most challenging and difficult topics with people, because there isn’t anyone else who can. Our social workers give bedside support throughout the end-of-life process. We don’t want to force our patients down a certain path, but instead join them as they go down their path of choice.