When we’re faced with circumstances beyond our control, when our lives have changed and we feel everything is upside down, we need someone who understands, who can help us navigate through the storm. There is hope, help and there is guidance.
March is National Social Work month and we want to thank you, the men and women, who are dedicated to the lives of patients, caregivers and family members facing crisis. Because you are that empathetic heart, that listening ear, that expert who can offer community resources and support, we have a community who experiences love, who knows what it means for someone to be invested in their well-being. Social workers advocate the needs of each patient, and their families, in their care.
In honor of National Social Work month, we want to shed light on the professional side of social work and the important role social workers have in home health care.
Clinical social workers are trained and licensed professionals who are an integral part of home health care and hospice teams. With great compassion, and in different ways, they provide unique social and emotional support in addition to helping patients and families access resources. Clinical social workers are advocates and educators.
A hospice social worker focuses on helping patients, caregivers and families transition through the end-of-life journey. This individual is part of the team ensuring a patient’s plan of care wishes and goals are met. A social worker may help ease stressful dynamics by mediating a conversation or be that listening ear for someone who just needs to release or process their grief. Hospice social workers may be called on to help families make funeral arrangements, find a funeral home or find financial assistance for burial expenses. With compassion and empathy, a hospice social worker may talk through the stages of death and dying so that caregivers and families know what to expect. A hospice social worker is a pillar of support for families experiencing the end-of-life journey.
On the home health team, a clinical social worker’s assessment helps them learn about a patient’s financial, medical and family history to understand what kind of support they have in place and what they need. A social worker may, with permission from the patient, reach out to a patient’s family members who live long distance hoping for additional support for the patient. Social workers may provide education about senior living options, connect patients and families to support groups, or have a conversation about planning, making sure patients have advance directives in place. The role is diverse and unique to each patient’s needs. A social worker may be called upon to help patients fill out forms, help a patient or family find a food bank, or provide resources for financial assistance with utilities or rent. An expert on local community resources, social workers can connect patients and families to programs and services such as meals on wheels, adult day care, respite care, senior services and county services such as public transportation and assistance for veterans.
When life has become overwhelming and you’re faced with difficult decisions you just can’t make alone, it’s reassuring to know a social worker will be by your side.