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Contributions of Social Workers in Home Health and Hospice

Social work is a work of heart. 

Social workers are the heart of community well-being.

The National Association of Social Workers states: “As practitioners, social workers are trained to help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. They are employed to effect positive change with individuals, families, groups and entire communities.”

In short, social workers are artists in matters of the heart and experts in taking action. 

Social workers play a critical role in both the home health and hospice services.  Social workers roles may shift to meet the evolving needs of patients and families in these separate specialties, and they contribute by providing the following: 

  • Emotional Comfort
  • Education & Resources
  • Care Planning

What Does a Hospice Social Worker Do? 

Hospice is for those who have a life-limiting condition.  For those individuals and their loved ones, social workers focus on making the most of their remaining time. Where a nurse addresses a hospice patient’s physical needs, a social worker focuses on treating the feelings and emotions associated with end-of-life. Social workers provide emotional comfort, aid closures with family and friends, and confront the “what’s next?” questions from patients and their loved ones. Hospice social workers are also there as a resource and planner to get affairs in order. They can guide the family in areas such as finances, advance directives, and funeral planning. Additionally, social workers are experts in grief and bereavement support, working with the patient, and just as often or more, with the patient’s family.

What Does a Certified Home Health Social Worker Do?

Certified home health is a service that helps people with short-term medical needs such as skilled nursing or physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Commonly, these individuals require short-term care planning to recover from injury, surgery, or acute illness. Social workers act as consultants—helping patients understand what they have gone through—as they transition from hospital to home. Just like hospice social workers, they provide emotional support for the entire family. They educate and consult the patient and family on available community resources, from transportation services to Meals on Wheels. They act as a resource for care planning—supporting Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), reviewing health insurance, determining veterans’ status and benefits, and connecting caregivers.  

The Constellation Social Worker Difference

At Constellation, social workers are an integral part of our interdisciplinary team approach to care. We call this the Complete Care Solution, where our staff treats each patient as an individual to personalize care. We consider their needs at every step along their care journey and adapt seamlessly to changes with resources like technology solutions and extensive professional support. We integrate the family and loved ones as part of the care team to feel confident in the approach. 

“I think the uniqueness of our social workers is their availability and their willingness to commit to the patients themselves,” says Deborah Moeller, Constellation Director of Palliative Care and Hospice, CT. “They will go out at any time, to support the family, to support the grieving process. They’re available for telephone consultations. They really are a good adjunct into the whole process.” 

As part of the Constellation philosophy of ensuring that everyone we connect with feels valued, trusted, and heard, the Connecticut hospice team does just that. In one instance, they were caring for a 96-year-old retired nurse with cardiac conditions. As part of the team’s efforts to get her affairs in order, they decided to help her with a final wish, a bucket list item. She wanted to go zip lining. The social worker facilitated a real zip line adventure. Unfortunately, the day they had planned to go, the weather was too cold. The social worker quickly pivoted and set her up with a virtual reality zipline from home. 

Caring for individuals is a team effort at Constellation. Social workers are completely integrated into the team—they know the company philosophy and truly act as the guides, the consultants, and the facilitators in care.

Nancy Lake, a home health social worker in New York, described how the Constellation team works together. Social workers will often get a referral from a physical therapist or nurse (someone working with the patient daily). In one case, the physical therapist (PT) discovered the patient was getting tearful during their session. The PT questioned the patient and knew to involve a social worker to help the patient through family emotions. 

“In home health, we’re short term, not long term,” she said. “We’re going in there to help the patient and family prioritize what the main presenting problems are, and then we can look at what some resources and solutions might be.” 

At Constellation, we are grateful for our team members because we know that a team in lockstep provides the best care for our patients. Social workers are an integral part of our team. 

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Constellation is a family-owned, family-centered organization that has remained true to our commitment to providing the best patient experience and the highest quality outcomes. We believe this is accomplished by ensuring that everyone we connect with feels valued, trusted, and heard. Contact us today.

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