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What does a hospice social worker do?

Samaritan social worker Colleen Fritsch, MSW, LCSW, gathered four generations of Roy’s family round him to present a certificate and medal recognizing his military service decades ago. Despite Roy’s exhaustion, he began to recount war stories that he had never shared before.

“It really meant something to him to recollect those stories with his children and grandchildren,” says Colleen (pictured back row left). “This work brings closure to many veterans.”

Colleen’s work with veteran hospice patients is just one way she and her social work colleagues are “Generations Strong” – the theme of this 2020’s national Social Work Month in March.

In honor of this month, we recognize the talents and compassion of Samaritan’s social workers, who play a key role in caring for the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of our patients, their families, and caregivers.

Read more about what hospice social workers do >>

Samaritan’s hospice and bereavement social workers help with the intense challenges that come with serious illness or the end-of-life journey. They provide a vast array of support, resources, and solutions that may include:

  • Education on a particular illness or the end-of-life process
  • Counseling on both dying and bereavement
  • Support in helping children understand what is happening to loved ones
  • Help in navigating closure for complex family relationships
  • Assistance in exploring non-medical ways of relieving pain and anxiety
  • Connections to needed resources, such as home care, transportation, or connecting to VA and other benefits
  • Information on the emotional and physical challenges of caregiving
  • The completion of advance directives
  • The determination of funeral arrangements

Social work is a true calling that requires solid professional skills, a determined tenacity in resolving complex issues, and the rare gift of personal compassion that creates a special bond between the social worker, patient, and family.

Samaritan social workers tailor their care to individual patients. Though the challenges of serious illness can be daunting, sometimes the best solution can involve a chance to escape the worry and anxiety. “I try to bring some kind of joy and laughter to every visit, to leave the patient or family member a bit lighter so they can better cope with what they are dealing with,” shares Samaritan social worker Sherri Brake.

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Meet the Other Members of the Hospice Care Team Now.

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Sherri and Patient BettySherri recently worked with Betty*, an 80-year-old patient who had practiced yoga every day prior to her illness. Noting Betty’s frustration over her physical limitations, Sherri provided her with chair yoga videos to get her moving again in a way that was possible for her.

During one of their conversations, Betty told Sherri that she did not want a funeral, because she didn’t want to miss the party. Together they planned a “Mustaches and Martinis Pre-Death Party” – a nod to the silly mustaches Sherri often wears at visits to evoke a smile, and to Betty’s lifelong love of a martini after a hard day of teaching school.

Dying is not easy, but at Samaritan, the individualized connections and relationships our staff builds can ease the process. On behalf of our patients, their families and caregivers, thank you to all of our social workers for all you do – in March and year-round!