March 27, 2017

Shining Lights of LightBridge: 5 Things We Love About Our Social Workers

At LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care, providing compassionate care to our patients and their families is always our number one priority. To do this effectively, we rely on each and every one of our team members. Every person on our team, from our nurses to our social workers, is passionate about caring for our patients.

Because it’s Social Worker Appreciation Month, we wanted to specially honor the people who provide a unique type of support to both our patients and the rest of our team. These are just five of the reasons we love our social workers:

1. They gather essential psychosocial history.

Our social workers, along with the rest of the interdisciplinary team, meet with patients within the first five days, after the start of care.  At this time, they conduct a psychosocial assessment; asking patients about their family history, schedules, routines, preferences (likes and dislikes), career, and military history. This information supports the efforts of rest of the team to provide the best individualized care to every patient as possible, as this information is incorporated directly into the patient’s care plan. This primary component of the job is especially important with our veteran patients who may have PTSD or other service-related issues.  The rest of our team can take any specific needs into consideration throughout a patient’s journey with LightBridge.  Additionally, information gathered during this first visit, assists the social worker to provide any resources which may be beneficial to the patient and their family.  

2. They know how to really listen to what the patient needs.

Learning how to listen is a critical part of a social worker’s education. Adept listening skills are just one of the reasons social workers are a vital part of our LightBridge team. They listen to a patient’s story and are able to communicate the meaning behind it.  Having that specialized expertise and ability means a patient’s care plan and the approach employed by the team, can be more dynamic, changing as we learn more about the patient’s needs and desires.

3. They go above and beyond to meet our patients’ needs.

More than simply listening to a patient, our social workers make sure those needs are met, whether it is advising our nurses and volunteers of different ways to approach care or going above and beyond to make patients’ last wishes come true through the LightBridge Hospice Community Foundation’s Simple Gifts program. 

For instance, one of our patients would tell fantastic stories about animals. Our social worker realized that the patient’s wish wasn’t necessarily to visit a zoo, but to be surrounded by animals in her home. Through our foundation, we were able to purchase several stuffed animals and create a zoo in her home. Because she took the time to listen and really understand the patient, our social worker was able to identify the patient’s needs on an even deeper level. (Go to to learn more about this unique program). 

4. They provide increased emotional support to our care. 

While nurses tend to the physical well-being of patients, social workers add a level of emotional and psychosocial support to the care we provide.  Having a hospice diagnosis may have a significant impact and can cause a vulnerable time, for a patient and their family.   A social worker’s responsibilities encompass socialization, companionship, and emotional support so that the patient and their family are fully supported during their end of life journey.  Social Workers provide this support to allow for peaceful resolution of potential issues helping create cherished memories of those final days. 

5. They support our clinical staff with ideas and approaches to care.

At LightBridge, we value clear communication and team cohesiveness. With everyone on the same page, we can support one another and focus on providing our patients with the right care at the right time in the right place. Whether it’s brainstorming care techniques, or problem solving a challenging situation, our social workers support the rest of us -- sharing their unique perspective on hospice care to makes our jobs a little easier.

We are able to deliver such personalized care because of the amazing social workers we have on our team. Join our LightBridge family by calling (858) 458-2992 or visiting us online, and experience the dedication and compassion of our social workers first-hand.

By: Penelope Pongun, Medical Social Services