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What Does A Social Worker Do?

Most people have perceptions of social workers which may be skewed or biased. Some possible misconceptions include:

  • Are they going to put me in a nursing home?

  • Will they report me because my house is not clean?

  • Will they take my children from me?

  • Will they intrude in my personal business?

  • They only work with the poor.

Modern social work in America has its roots in the 19th century. Social work found its beginning as society began to acknowledge the struggles of people, with leaders wondering how to deal with poverty and associated problems. Therefore, social work is intricately linked with the idea of charity work, but it should be understood in broader terms. In 1889, Jane Addams was a young medical student who set up Hull House in Chicago to work with poor and immigrant communities. The house was both a community service center and a social research program. Over the years, the social work field has grown to be a more utilized and wellrespected profession.

Today, social workers are degreed in bachelors and masters level education. They are highly trained and require licensure by the state. Social work is a generalized field. Social workers can serve in the medical field, in hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies. They may also be found working in state and government agencies, in child welfare, adult protective services, prisons and treatment centers. In Amarillo, social workers are now found in elementary and middle schools. The school district is to be saluted for providing mental health professionals who are social workers.

Many people often ask, “What does a hospice social worker do?

The social worker is an essential part of the hospice team. They are medical social workers with specialized training in end-of-life care. Hospice social workers have an in-depth knowledge and expertise in working with ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity; family and support networks; multidimensional bereavement; interdisciplinary practice; and navigating healthcare systems.

In hospice and palliative care settings, social workers may find themselves helping with some of the following:

  • Assisting patients and families in making health care decisions based on their personal goals of care.

  • Ensuring that the patient’s end-of-life wishes are documented and known by assisting with advance directives, and do not resuscitate (DNR) orders.

  • Contacting local agencies and/or community resources which may be of help to the patient and family.

  • Assistance with insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid paperwork.

  • Assistance with funeral planning.

Mostly, the social worker will build a relationship with the hospice patient and their families and assist in areas of need as they arise. Amarillo’s BSA Hospice of the Southwest has four social workers on staff: Ira Purdy, LMSW, a Masters level Social Worker; and Carla Plischke, JoAnn Cruz-Perez, and Jennifer Oliver, who are each Licensed Bachelors Social Workers. Currently, two of our bachelor level social workers are obtaining their master’s degree. As social workers, our goal is to provide compassionate care for all our patients and their family members. Let us know how we may serve you. 806.356.0026.