As a hospice social worker I fulfill a variety of roles and tasks all focused to improve the physical, psychosocial and spiritual quality of life of those living with a serious illness. A large part of my role is to build rapport while assessing the goals, needs and strengths of both the patient and family. My ultimate goal is to meet the patient and family caregivers where they are and support them through the journey of end-of-life.
Top 10 reasons I ♥ being a hospice social worker:
1. Offering hope to patients and caregivers in a very intimate time of life.
I am often the first face a patient and/or caregiver see from our hospice team and someone they often grow very close to. I am given a special opportunity to sit and learn about the journey the patient is on and how we can help.
2. Listening to the stories of patients and their families.
I have learned the value of life through the words of my patients and I am constantly reminded of the importance of laughter. My favorite afternoon is sitting at the bedside with a patient that has a story to share.
3. Serving as part of the hospice interdisciplinary team.
I love working as a team and learning from other team members. I often find that other members bring such valuable insight to the table and I love the balance we bring to each other.
4. Legacy projects.
I love talking with patients about their legacy and brainstorming creative ways to leave a legacy with family and friends. I have been part of legacy projects that included: videos, cookbooks, story books, music, cards, and many others.
5. Final wishes.
Every once in a while a person comes on our service with a burning desire to see one last thing completed before they depart from this world. Sometimes this comes in the form of a hot air balloon ride, a last day at the beach, attending a special event/concert, or planning a special party to be with friends and family.
6. Facilitating advance care planning and lifespan planning.
Education is in every conversation I have- everything from family meetings, personal conversations with patients and community events. I love teaching people about how to have those difficult and often uncomfortable conversations about death and dying.
7. I love learning about the community which I serve and the cultures of others.
Culture is a significant part of end-of-life and learning about the traditions surrounding dying is always very interesting. I cherish the opportunity to learn about other cultures through my career as a hospice social worker.
8. Advocating for patients and family caregivers.
As a social worker I am constantly working to speak up and give a voice to those I serve. End-of-life is a very emotional time for most patients and often they need support in advocating for their needs.
9. Helping families and loved one through the stages of grief.
I really enjoy following caregivers and loved ones after experiencing a loss. It is amazing to see the weight lifted off their shoulders when they realize how normal their grief is and that they are not alone. Connecting those that are grieving to groups and other social events is also great for healing.
10. Growing in my own spiritual journey while helping others with their final homecoming.
I have always been a spiritual personal but since joining the hospice world I have been encouraged to go deeper in my faith. Sitting with my first patient while taking their final breaths was an honor and an experience I will never forget. I am always moved by the power of faith and how it can bring peace in the biggest storms in our lives.
Kendra Evans is a Social Worker and Community Liaison for St. Luke Missionary Hospice. To contact her directly, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org