Hospice social workers fill an essential role with patients and their loved ones. When a patient begins receiving hospice care, in addition to other healthcare providers, a social worker is assigned to their care team to help facilitate the patient's treatment plan. Knowing the hospice journey is more than physical symptoms; a hospice social worker provides a blend of emotional support and practical knowledge. By guiding the patient and providing resources, a social worker can make navigating the challenging decisions and situations often associated with hospice care less stressful. A social worker's job is to be a shoulder to lean on and empower those they work with. Social workers are many different things and wear many different hats - they are advocates, educators, counselors, and resource experts who use all these tools to help guide patients and their loved ones during one of the most challenging times of life.
To identify the individual needs of a patient, a social worker will make a full assessment to understand their needs and preferences. A good social worker is always assessing. Determining what the patient's needs are. What's changed? What's going on? How are they coping? How does this person's illness or diagnosis affect the patient on a psychological and social level? Are they struggling emotionally? Is there unsettled business in their life? Are there tasks or resolutions the care team can help assist the patient with as they look at the end of their life? This is the role of a social worker.
Following the completion of a full assessment, communication and coordination between the social worker and the entire interdisciplinary team determine the best resources, programs, interventions, guidance, and education for the patient and their loved ones. This is essential to ensure the care provided is what the patient needs and prefers. A part of the beauty of hospice is the interdisciplinary team approach because every member approaches the patient from a different perspective. Depending on the patient's needs, the social worker tailors the frequency of their visits, and their support based on their continued assessments.
In addition to patient care, a social worker's role also extends to the patient's family and others within the close social circle. At LightBridge Hospice, we focus on the patient's family just as much as we focus on the patient. We want to know how they make decisions. What's important to their social system? How do things look through their lens? By assessing, respecting, and understanding the unique needs and perspectives of the patient and their family or social circle, a social worker can offer guidance and resources specific to them, to facilitate the preferred and most effective comfort and support. At LightBridge Hospice, we tailor every intervention and interaction to the needs and preferences of the patient. We adjust our approaches to what is best for the specific situation. We're always looking at what is needed and what resources can assist.
Additionally, social workers with LightBridge Hospice provide ongoing bereavement support for the patient's loved ones for over a year beyond the patient's passing. We're always looking at grief, loss, and bereavement. Bereavement support begins upon admission. We look at the anticipatory grief and how this loss is going to affect the family and the patient's loved ones. After the patient's passing, the social worker assigned to their case will reach out to the family to see how they're doing, offer to assist with practical needs such as funeral arrangements, and then provide periodic support to help with ongoing emotional needs during the following months.
The essence of being a social worker with LightBridge Hospice comes down to helping empower people. As social workers, we use the tools we have to assist people in our care where our focus is to be a support and guide. At LightBridge Hospice, every member of the team is committed to being there with you, every step of the way.