A Day in the Life of a Hospice Social Worker | Social Worker Appreciation Month

March is the month to honor our social workers across all sectors. The work these people do transform the lives of individuals and their families. Today, we focus on the brave and compassionate hospice social workers. We’ll dive into what a day in the life looks like for them and shed light on the amazing role a hospice social worker has in a patient’s life.

A day-to-day with a hospice social worker

Macy Lynch and Kristen Ruotsinoja are two bright and compassionate professionals that ensure their patients and their patients’ families are cared for in the right way as social workers at St Croix Hospice. “I make sure all of our patients’ needs are met, and if they need any additional support from outside resources,” says Macy.

No day is the same for these two frontline workers. For the most part, their days consist of visiting patients either in facilities or in their homes virtually, over the phone, or in person. “During our visits throughout the day, we engage with our patients to the best of their ability. Sometimes I will read to my patients, color with them, listen to music, sit with them while they sleep, and if they are able, engage in conversation and facilitate life review,” says Kristen. They then talk with the families and see if there is anything they can do to support or educate them when making tough end-of-life decisions for their loved ones.

The role of a hospice social worker

The role of a hospice social worker is to provide support to patients and their families. “My role as a hospice social worker is to provide support and comfort to patients and families throughout the dying process. I advocate for the patients’ end-of-life wishes and help individuals through the emotional process of their illnesses. I also help assist patients/families get the services and resources they may need for additional support,” says Macy. A social worker, in general, serves a supportive role who has access to certain resources to help their patients and families.

It is a hospice social workers’ job to measure and observe their patients’ well-being and mental state and work with clinical teams to provide the best care for the patient. According to Kristen, “We manage the patient's psychosocial well-being and actively advocate for the continued needs of patients and families. We also help provide support to our own clinical teams. Additionally, it is a hospice social worker’s job to understand family dynamics and how they influence the patients’ mental, emotional and psychosocial state and how it influences families coping abilities.”

What type of person is a hospice social worker?

The hospice space is a tough industry to work in. Catering to end-of-life care is no easy task and very emotionally draining for any employee who works directly with the patients. It takes a special kind of toughness to be around death consistently, but it takes someone of compassion to be around patients in their final days as well as their families. “I became a social worker to help people and make a difference in people’s lives,” Macy says, “I am able to make a positive impact on my patients and their families during a very hard part of life.”

According to Kristen and Macy, their passion to help people is what landed them in the social work profession as they would both tell you in unison, “I became a social worker to help others.”

It takes a special person of toughness and compassion driven by helping others to fill the role of a social worker. Thank you, Kristen and Macy, and to all other hospice social workers who help those that are in their final days of life and their families by providing the support and resources they need. You are the ones making a difference in people’s lives.

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