Friday, March 9, 2018 | By Brittany Petersen 

Photo by Carl Raw on Unsplash

The month of March is National Social Work Month, so we thought we would give you a glimpse into their world!

According to Google, social work, by definition, is “work carried out by trained personnel with the aim of alleviating the conditions of those in need of help or welfare.” Makes sense – simple enough. How does that translate into hospice care, though?

How do you alleviate the conditions of those with a diagnosis of 6 months, or less, to live?

How do you alleviate the heartbreak of family members as they watch their loved one sign up for hospice care?

How do you alleviate the nerves of a strong-willed man who has lived through world wars and the Great Depression, who thinks signing up for hospice care means giving up?

You do it with superheroes called Social Workers. We do it with Jeni and Amy.

To best create this picture for you – I’ll do my best to walk you through a day in the life of Jeni and Amy.

If you’re in an office setting, it probably starts the same as yours:

  • Check emails
  • Check voicemails
  • Look over daily calendar
  • File paperwork

Actually, no, before any of this even happens there is a hospice meeting in the back room. Every single morning our hospice team, consisting of our two social workers, a spiritual counselor, the Executive Director, and nurses meet to discuss cases. This ensures that everyone is on the same page with caring for each patient in a way that best serves their need. NOTE: Don’t forget the most important daily task – make sure everyone knows which patients passed away between yesterday at 4:30pm and today. The last thing anyone wants to do is find that out over a routine phone call.

NEXT, the above items happen – and the day begins.

Throughout the day, our social workers stay busy:

  • Scheduling visits with patients
  • Checking in on patients by phone daily to inquire about needs and offer a visit
  • Visiting patients
  • Meeting with hospice families for initial meetings to review paperwork and the concept/philosophy of the program
  • Assisting clients in researching nursing home availability as well as paperwork and admission process
  • Assisting families in creating quality of life goals
  • Assisting with power of attorney paperwork
  • Connecting families to community resources
  • Assessing safety of patients in their home – referring APS in needed
  • Speaking with referrals who are considering hospice care
  • Logging notes
  • Assisting with memorial service
  • Assisting with volunteer training, meetings, and tracking
  • Completing paperwork
  • Attending team meetings
  • Serving on local committees like the Cancer Care Fund Committee

Social workers also have the role of making bereavement checks with family members of patients who have passed away in the last 13 months. Did you know at Kosciusko Home Care & Hospice our team checks in with the family of past patients for 13 months through phone calls and letters? Our social workers are available to help families walk through all of the firsts after a loved-ones death; first birthday, first Christmas, first Thanksgiving, first wedding anniversary, etc., and finally, the first anniversary of their death - hence the 13 months.

That’s a hard role to play day in and day out, but one Jeni and Amy do so well.

Jeni is also our Director of Operations and Director of Hospice. So, on top of her social work duties, she also completes Medicaid paperwork for patients, addresses concerns from patients/families and staff, stays up-to-date on regulation changes, schedules nurses, schedules and facilitates meetings, prepares information for our Medical Director, and makes the initial contact with patients/families and their following doctor. I’m still trying to figure out how she fits all those hats on her head!

I have the pleasure of working right next door to both of our social workers – so I, by default, hear many of their conversations. Let me tell you - they are the most kind, understanding, and caring women. You would not believe the conversations these women have with patients and families, the fires they put out, and the emotions they help people walk through on a daily basis. It takes a special kind of person to deal with both fear and tragedy on a daily basis and still have joy, and still push forward, and still have the emotional capacity and empathy needed to FULLY be present for the next patient.

Let’s not brush over the fact that in the time between all these other tasks they support the Kosciusko Home Care & Hospice team as well! They also bring us more laughter than you could imagine in a hospice agency – and that is essential for everyone to do their jobs well!

We love our social workers and are thankful to have them on our team – we could not do home care and hospice without their talents!

United Way
We Honor Veterans
Kosciusko Help Center
Medication and Dental Assistance
Indiana 211 Partnership, Inc.