Hospice Social Worker Job Facts
Hospice social workers work in one of the most difficult, emotionally challenging social environments. Hospices are places of care for the dying. They work with both the patients and their families. Hospice social workers provide extremely valuable support to people in their hour of deepest need and help them to cope with grief issues that seem insurmountable.
The Work Environment
Hospice social workers are case workers that deal with the specific interests of affected people in the facility’s care. This is a true social work job, dealing with difficult issues. Part of the role involves analysis of the needs of those affected. Although social workers aren’t involved in direct care of patients, they may often assist with situations in which the patient is involved.
Upon the death of a patient, the hospice notifies the bereaved family members that assistance is available. The usual order of business for hospice social workers includes both counseling and advisory services. Counseling services are a support service, helping people deal with grief and in some cases providing ongoing support where required. The requirements of this type of counseling vary considerably, and have to be tailored to the situations. They are largely case-oriented depending on needs. In some cases, a hospice social worker may refer people to a grief counselor, or other professional support service.
Advising regarding social services issues may also be part of the hospice social worker’s task. There are often appropriate services for people experiencing hardship or financial distress in these circumstances, and there may also be entitlements applicable in some cases. As an advisor, the hospice social worker provides general advice regarding making proper arrangements for:
- Funeral arrangements
- Dealing with estate issues
- Recovery of any property of the deceased which is still in the care of the hospice post mortem. (This is procedural advice, really an administrative area.)
Hours and Wages
A hospice worker usually business hours, unless otherwise required. They may also work night shifts to care for patients at night. The median wage for a care worker is $50,000 and varies depending on employer, nature of employment contract, and organizational role and seniority.
The Career Outlook
Career progression in this line of work is generally organizationally based. Most hospice social workers work in either a hospice corporate environment or in a wider based role across the spectrum of the wider functions of a medical facility operation.
Career advancement is usually achieved in the traditional form of social worker progression, through institutional positions. This may require some job mobility, but it’s less common than in other industries, because the social work environment and job market tends to be comparatively stable, replacing people through the organizational hierarchies.
At senior levels, hospice social workers may contribute to development of social policy and organizational practices, evolving new methodologies and strategies for coping with operational issues.