The Value of Having Hospice Social Workers
These special professionals address a wide range of needs related to end-of-life care.
Arranging for a terminally ill patient to visit animals at a local shelter. Helping families tap into home healthcare services. Leading a bereavement support group.
These are just a few of the contributions hospice social workers make on any given day. With duties that span the psychosocial spectrum, hospice social workers join doctors and nurses as essential members of the team providing support and care to patients with terminal illnesses and their families.
“Hospice is an increasingly prevalent service to provide end-of-life care that addresses both quality of care and quality of life and focuses on meeting psychosocial needs for both the patient and their loved ones,” Social Work Policy Institute (SWPI) says. “Since the inception of hospice care, social workers have served as key members of the hospice interdisciplinary care team.”1
Social Work Interventions
Hospice social workers’ responsibilities are comprehensive and varied. This list of job duties from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) illustrates the numerous and vital services these professionals offer:2
- Provide counseling and psychotherapy for individuals, couples, and families.
- Provide psychosocial education to patients and family caregivers about coping skills, hospice and palliative care philosophy, and nonpharmacological symptom management strategies.
- Provide in-services to other service providers and organizations.
- Lead community education workshops.
- Plan for discharge, coordinating care, and helping clients navigate systems.
- Facilitate advance care planning and lifespan planning.
- Intervene in crises.
- Mediate conflicts within families, between clients and the interdisciplinary team, and between service organizations.
- Advocate on behalf of the patient and family.
- Identify and link clients with resources.
- Facilitate psychoeducational support groups.
- Document social work activities.
- Participate in interdisciplinary team meetings, care planning, and ethics consultation.
In performing their myriad responsibilities and interventions, hospice social workers bring the valued gifts of compassion, resourcefulness, communication, and organization.
“A professional team, supporting a dying patient and their family, is diminished without the presence of a trained social worker,” says Elizabeth Clark, the former executive director of NASW. “I am proud of the work that NASW does to ensure that social workers continue to have a strong role in end-of-life care.”3
How to Become a Social Worker
Begin your journey to a rewarding social work career by earning a degree from Walden University’s bachelor’s or master’s programs in social work, both accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Walden’s online degree programs are a perfect choice for working professionals who want to launch or advance their social work careers while staying engaged in their current jobs.
In Walden’s online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree program, the curriculum is focused on in-demand career skills that include case management, treatment planning, and crisis intervention. You’ll gain critical skills and knowledge through face-to-face interactions and guided instruction from academic practitioners and experts in the field. And as a BSW graduate with a 3.0 GPA, you can enroll in Walden’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program with the advanced standing option, potentially saving you time and money.
A BSW can prepare you for roles that include:
- Child life specialist
- Substance abuse counselor
- Family services worker
- Geriatric social worker
- Mental health case manager
- Military/veteran social worker
- School social worker
- Hospital social worker
Walden’s online MSW program can help elevate and advance your social work career. If you’re interested in becoming a hospice social worker, an MSW is the education level typically required, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).4 Walden’s master’s in social work online program offers the flexibility of online education and practical learning experiences. Walden’s MSW program offers four concentrations: Advanced Clinical Practice, Military Social Work, Social Work With Children and Families, and Social Work in Healthcare.
It takes a special person to become a social worker, helping clients work through sensitive issues and difficult times. That’s especially true for hospice social workers. “Knowing that patients are nearly certain to die in your care may be a difficult part of hospice work. But these workers say they are drawn to helping others, and that provides job satisfaction,” the BLS says.4
As one hospice social worker told the BLS, “Working in hospice absolutely mirrors the reasons I got into social work. I can truly make a difference in people’s lives. A good day might be when someone quietly says, ‘Thank you.’”4
When you’re ready to find meaning and satisfaction in a social work career, there’s a social work degree that can lead you to your goals and aspirations.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering CSWE-accredited online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
Walden University's Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation is responsible for developing standards that define competent preparation for professional social workers and ensuring that social work programs meet these standards.
BSW Note on Licensure
Walden University’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program meets the academic requirements to obtain the required credential to practice as a bachelors-level social worker in many states.
State licensing boards are responsible for regulating the practice of social work, and each state has its own academic, licensure, and certification requirements for practice as a social worker at the bachelor’s degree level. Walden recommends that students consult the appropriate social work licensing board in the state in which they plan to practice to determine the specific academic requirements for licensure or other credentials. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide information relating to the state-by-state requirements for licensure. However, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all licensing requirements for the state in which he or she intends to practice. Walden makes no representations or guarantee that completion of its coursework or programs will permit an individual to achieve state licensure, authorization, endorsement, or other state credential as a social worker.
MSW Note on Licensure
The minimum academic credential required to obtain licensure to practice as a social worker in most states is a Master of Social Work (MSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Walden University’s MSW program is accredited by CSWE.
State licensing boards are responsible for regulating the practice of social work, and each state has its own academic, licensure, and certification requirements. Walden recommends that students consult the appropriate social work licensing board in the state in which they plan to practice to determine the specific academic requirements for licensure. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide information relating to the state-by-state requirements for licensure. However, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all licensing requirements for the state in which he or she intends to practice. Walden makes no representations or guarantee that completion of its coursework or programs will permit an individual to achieve state licensure, authorization, endorsement, or other state credential as a social worker.