Social Workers are Key to Hospice Care

“Palliative care and hospice offer social workers the privilege of supporting individuals and families during some of the most universal—and vulnerable—life experiences: coping with serious illness, facing one’s mortality, the dying process, and bereavement. Hospice and palliative care social workers witness, on a daily basis, the struggle to find meaning in the face of serious illness and death. They have a unique opportunity to help people identify, try to answer, and live with core existential questions.”

– National Association of Social Workers

Social Workers are Key to the Team

The philosophy of hospice is based on using a comprehensive team of professionals to handle every aspect of a family’s needs. This interdisciplinary approach funnels the right services at the right time and place to people needing hospice care and their families.

In honor of World Social Work Day, let’s talk about the important role that our social workers play on the team at Kansas City Hospice.

Throughout life, most of us may not have any interaction with a social worker. As a matter of fact, many people might have a negative connotation when they hear the term social worker. They may assume social workers are only called in when someone has done something wrong. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Role of Social Work in Hospice Care

“The most important role of the social worker on the team is helping the other professionals understand who the person is,” states Deborah Wilson, LCSW. “What is important to them? How are the family dynamics? What do they consider quality of life? How do they want to live now that serious illness is a part of life?”

Hospice and palliative care social workers fulfill a variety of roles and tasks. Assessments focus on the goals, needs, and strengths of both the patient and family caregivers.

  • Assessment of the person entering hospice and of their family dynamics
  • Teaching about coping skills, hospice and palliative care philosophy, and symptom management strategies
  • Counseling for patients and family members
  • Planning for discharge, coordinating care, and helping clients navigate complex systems
  • Facilitating advance care planning
  • Intervening in a crisis
  • Mediating conflicts within families
  • Participating in interdisciplinary team meetings, care planning, and ethics consultations
  • Advocating on behalf of the patient and family
  • Identifying and linking clients with needed resources

About US


The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. And, our vision: each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

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