During National Social Work Month, we are highlighting the incredible work our dedicated licensed clinical social workers provide in caring for patients and their families at end-of-life.
We asked Melissa Caves, LCSW, ACHP-SW, to share her story and motivation in working as a social worker in hospice care.
My name is Melissa Caves. I am a full-time Float Social Worker with Community Hospice & Palliative Care since 2010. I cover the caseloads of primary social workers when they are on time off, leave, or when there is a vacant position.
As a social worker, I offer emotional support to patients and families, helping them identify their end-of-life goals and find closure for a peaceful and dignified death. I also provide community resource information to help patients and families reach their end-of-life goals.
I help the interdisciplinary team look at the patient's situation from a 'big picture perspective. Helping patient along the journey towards end-of-life is more than just meeting physical needs or symptom management, patients often need help outlining tasks to settle their affairs and adapt to life without their loved ones. Patients may also seek encouragement or guidance on having difficult conversations with their family and address 'The Four Things That Matter Most,' to find closure and completion with their relationships.
I feel that social workers also help other disciplines meet patients where they are by helping normalize different family systems and coping methods. We suggest tactics on how to communicate or educate within different dynamics. What works for one family might not work for another and could be completely foreign to our staff's experiences. We help our team adjust their usual approaches to improve communication.
What I enjoy most about working as a social worker is always trying to look at situations from a different perspective. I keep an open mind and am always learning so that I can individualize my support services to every patient and family.
I enjoy working at Community Hospice & Palliative Care because I meet so many people, from all walks of life, with such fascinating stories and life experiences. I always imagine our community as tapestry and my job interactions as a thread within that larger web. I hope that I leave a long-lasting, positive impression about how wonderful hospice services can be. I hope that I help dispel myths, rumors, and fears. My goal every day is to help spread the knowledge that hospice is not just about death and dying, but about helping people live life to the fullest!
I also enjoy how Community Hospice & Palliative Care offers ongoing education and training, but what I found most helpful is always having the ability to discuss situations with my colleagues and brainstorm ways to best support our patients and families. In my opinion, two heads are better than one, and thank goodness our interdisciplinary team is comprised of more than two disciplines!