Social Work Programs

May 6, 2010

Hospice Social Workers

Filed under: hospice social workers — Tags: — admin @ 3:50 pm

hospicesocialworker Social workers make a difference in the lives of people, families, and the communities. Hospice social workers play an important role in the lives of those with a terminal condition and their families. Just like in life, social workers are there to help support families in financial, emotional, and ethical care, these aspects are also important in death.

The needs during a time of serious illness often can’t be met by family members completely, due to the emotional impact. It can be such a difficult time and there are a lot of emotions that are overwhelming.


The death of a family member is a difficult event, but knowing that one is going to die has its own unique challenges. Hospice social workers are there during the last few months, weeks, or days of an individual’s life. They provide much needed support to help the individual and their family cope with the illness that will ultimately cause the loss as well as the death itself. They also help to teach and train the family about the particular illness or cause of death which in turn can help ease fears and anxiety. By working with the family as a whole they can help everyone understand and accept the illnesses.

Social workers will work with individuals on emotional and psychological counseling to help alleviate grief, depression, and other mental health problems. They can also help with stress and anxiety management with relaxation techniques or other solutions. Hospice social workers also help with spiritual needs for individuals. This includes helping them to understand their unique situation as it pertains to their religious or spiritual beliefs as well as arranging meetings with spiritual leaders. This also includes ensuring that the patient’s beliefs are followed in regards to medical care and treatment options. This would include things such as a living will or a do not resuscitate order. Hospice care givers may have initially been contacted by oncology social workers before a patient is transferred.

Hospice workers can assist families with financial planning during the hospice care as well as after death. They work with patients and the communities to help provide financial assistance during and after the death of the family member. They also ensure that the individual receives adequate medical care and treatment options. After the hospice care ends, they also help family members to receive financial assistance through human services if needed.

Hospice care is a difficult and demanding occupation. The social workers who are dedicated to this profession must be sympathetic and understanding of patients as well as their family. Many times patients are confused and angry, and the social worker must help to relay their fears and assist them in accepting their death. It is a frightening time for the entire family, and a hospice worker must be adaptable and empathetic.

There are some social work hospice jobs that are on per diem basis. You also may be put on a night time on-call schedule where you are paid even if you aren’t called in. If you are called in the middle of the night, a patient has passed or there was an emergency. This can be a time where you may be disoriented due to being awakened in the middle of the night, then driving to a facility or someone’s home. The family will need you to comfort them and help with the transition. In social work programs there will be discussions of the various roles of social workers and this is invaluable to be able to find the area where you feel best suited.

3 Comments »

  1. A hospice social worker was really helpful for our family that was falling apart. She helped us connect to local community centers and also make decisions when we felt cloudy and overwhelmed.

    Comment by Gina — May 12, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

  2. I had thought that hospice only had to do with cancer but my aunt has a hospice social worker and she doesn’t have cancer but a number of other health complications. I believe it is covered by her medicare insurance policy. It is very helpful for her so if it covered in your insurance policy than it is useful for the emotional support and guidance.

    Comment by Geluiana — May 14, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

  3. We had a hospice social worker come in for my aunt and it was covered by her health insurance. It helped her because she felt so alone.

    Comment by Sally — September 22, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

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