Hospice social workers provide palliative care for individuals in their last stage of life. These professionals provide a wide variety of services for these patients and their families, helping serve their emotional and logistical needs. They provide diagnostic assessments and work collaboratively with other members of the health care team to provide high-quality care. Hospice social workers also work with patients and families to determine the best end-of-life care decisions based on the patient's goals. The patient and family may also need assistance with funeral planning, which which the hospice social worker may help. Hospice social workers also provide assistance with insurance, hospice, and Medicaid/Medicare paperwork, as well as help with paperwork after the patient's death. If the patient needs access to community resources such as Meals on Wheels, the hospice social worker helps arrange those services as well. This professional typically works full time in a hospice setting.
Hospice social workers must be certified medical social workers; many colleges and universities offer coursework that will lead to this degree. A master's degree in social work is typically required, although a bachelor's degree may be accepted. State certification must be obtained and maintained. Certifications require that a candidate receive supervised experience in a hospice setting; a basic certification might require two to four years' experience, and an advanced certification might require 3,000-plus hours.
Social Worker, Hospice Tasks
Counsel clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome the loss of a loved one and adjust to life.
Refer family to community resources to assist in recovery from loss and to provide access to services such as financial assistance, legal aid, or housing.
Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in clients' status.