Every home is different. Every family brings its own stories and concerns to the table. But all Hospice patients face major decisions that will affect the family as a whole. The Social Worker is a professional member of the Hospice team – often with years of additional training in counseling – who is charged with the particular responsibility of caring for the family as a whole. She respects the families’ wishes and makes sure they have the support they need to make the major decisions.
Hospice care is more than managing symptoms and pain relief. Life-limiting illness brings changes, sometimes gradual and sometimes in waves that can seem overwhelming:
- Increased responsibilities for the patient’s care
- Increased concerns about financial and legal matters or advanced directives
- Shifts in the usual family dynamic
- Unexpressed feelings that take on new urgency
The Social Worker is skilled in helping families work through these additional responsibilities and concerns. She encourages patients and family members to identify and address emotions such as stress, loneliness, grief and even anger. She brings a wealth of resources and coping strategies that ease stress and smooth the way to honor the Hospice patient’s wishes and plans.
The Hospice Social Worker is also a link to community resources and tools for planning funerals, wills, and financial arrangements. Remember: Hospice care is meant for the family as a whole. The Social Worker helps each member build on strengths and determine goals for the future, building healing and hope. Her care extends into the bereavement period of 13 months after the patient’s death.