In the United States, March is National Social Work Month. Social workers play a pivotal role in hospice and palliative care, from identifying patient emotional and spiritual needs to offering support to families as they navigate the challenges that come with having a loved one in hospice care.
This National Social Work Month, we honor the social workers that champion these duties for the hospice and palliative care communities they serve by acting as:
- Evaluators: Hospice workers play a key role in assessing and evaluating patient circumstances and coming up with solutions to solve problems. They continually determine patient needs, goals, and make sure the proper support systems are in place.
- Educators: Social workers are skilled at identifying and teaching people skills that can be used to help improve their circumstances, whether it’s teaching them how to budget, letting them know about crucial resources and how to access them, or teaching them how to communicate more effectively.
- Advocates: Hospice social workers advocate for patients by articulating their final needs, desires, and fears. They also act as advocates for family members to empower them to make tough decisions during the patient’s final days.
- Mediators: Social workers are trained to address any conflicts that arise between the patient and their family or the patient and/or their family and their care team. Social workers get everyone on the same page for a smoother, more effective process with the patient’s wishes and comfort in the center. They’re also skilled at crisis intervention should any major family conflicts arise during the process.
- Validator: Perhaps most importantly, hospice social workers teach patients and their families to accept their circumstances without feeling guilty by reinforcing to them that their feelings and emotions are valid and normal. Social workers are there every step of the way, from the intake day to the bedside during the dying process.
If you’d like to show your support for hospice and palliative care social workers this month, here are some ideas:
- Drop off coffee or donuts to the social worker care team.
- Write a “thank you” note with an optional gift card to Target, Starbucks, or anywhere else the social worker would enjoy.
- Use social media to raise awareness about the vital role hospice social workers play.
- Host a community outreach event to educate the public on the importance of hospice social workers and how they can support them.
Again, thank you to our hospice social workers. We appreciate your work, skills, and devotion to helping our patients live out their final days in the most comfortable and supported way possible.