COLUMN: March is National Social Workers Month

Published 7:30 am Saturday, March 16, 2024

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In recognition of National Social Workers Month in March 2024, we wish to honor and recognize the vital gifts of dedication, love, professionalism, time, talent, and care Hospice Social Workers provide.

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

Social workers are fundamental members of a hospice team. They provide personalized support to patients and their families, helping them manage the mental, emotional, and social challenges of an advanced terminal illness. Their insights, support, and recommendations can vastly improve the experience of the patient, their family, and their caregivers.

Hospice social workers often perform the following tasks:

  • Help families make healthcare choices that are best suited for the patient
  • Liaison with patients and other medical professionals
  • Document the patient’s wishes and needs accurately
  • Contact agencies and speak on behalf of patients and their families for additional resources
  • Help resolve psychological crises when needed
  • Intervene and help resolve conflicts between families and caregivers if needed
  • Help with medical insurance forms
  • Assist families with funeral planning if needed
  • Provide family and caregiver grief counseling for up to 13 months after the passing of their loved one

Hospice social workers recognize that each patient’s situation is unique and are diligent about ensuring that patients and their loved ones are individually valued. Most often, hospice social workers are true patient advocates, and hospice is blessed to have them as part of the team.

It matters how much we know once our patients and families know how much we care.

— Vickie C. Wacaster is a Patient and Hospice Advocate for Aveanna Hospice.