March is National Social Work Appreciation Month!

As we celebrate National Social Work Appreciation Month, it’s important to recognize the significant role Hospice Social Workers play in providing compassionate care to patients and their families during end-of-life care.

Hospice Social Workers provide emotional support, counseling, and guidance to patients and their loved ones as they navigate difficult decisions and cope with the challenges that come with a terminal illness. They also collaborate with other members of the hospice team to ensure that patients receive comprehensive care that addresses their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Beyond their work with patients, Hospice Social Workers also provide support to family members who are often facing their own emotional and practical challenges. They may help with funeral planning, financial concerns, and connecting with community resources, as well as offer emotional support to family members or friends dealing with the stress of caregiving.

The importance of Hospice Social Workers cannot be overstated. Their work is vital to ensuring that patients and their loved ones receive the care and support they need during one of the most difficult times in their lives. Let’s take this opportunity to show our appreciation for all social workers, including those working in hospice care, for their dedication and service to others.

Some of our Social Work team took the time for some Q&A! Please read below and meet some of our team members!


Josephine Moore

What inspired you to become a hospice social worker, and how did you get started in this profession?
If you were to tell me when I was graduating high school that I was going to work in hospice, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was terrified of death, had very little experience with the dying process and was your typical teenage rebel without a cause — and then my grandfather went onto hospice. Overnight, everything changed. Death wasn’t scary — just sad. The dying process was no longer something far away. It was in my home. My grandfather used High Peaks Hospice, and the comfort the staff brought to my family is something we’ve never forgotten.
It was then that I decided to become a social worker. I was going to work with kids — and then I found myself in the middle of the COVID pandemic, having graduated from Fordham with no prospects due to the pandemic and the ongoing hiring freeze. I saw the posting for High Peaks Hospice and thought “they’d never hire me…” two years later, I’m a medical social worker at High Peaks Hospice, doing a job I love and maybe — just maybe — bringing comfort to families like High Peaks Hospice brought comfort to mine sixteen years ago.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a hospice social worker, and how do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge that I face as a hospice social worker is simply … people. As a hospice social worker I go into people’s homes, when they have received probably some of the worst news of their life, and my job is to get to know them so I can better help them. I often feel as though I’m a bit like Bilbo Baggins trying to wish Gandalf a good morning only to hear “What do you mean? Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
People, despite being social creatures, can be stubborn and rather grumpy sometimes. So, being rather Hobbit-like myself (a lover of food and the comforts of home with no need to travel further than my own little town), have found that the way to overcome this challenge is sit down and be there in the moment. It might not be a good morning, and I may not be a welcomed visitor, but just as I learned to never laugh at dragons, as a hospice social worker, I’ve also learned that I may be coming in at the end of the story, so I need catch up quickly, be prepared for an adventure and lastly, happy for the time that I get to know my patients and their families – for they have lived a life worth knowing, and every life is an adventure.

Kristen Spero
How do you approach working with patients and their families during what can be a difficult and emotional time?
A quote that speaks to me is, “You matter because you are you, and you matter at the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die” -Cicely Saunders.
Creating a genuine human connection and rapport with each patient and their loved ones to learn about the lives they live and the things they love most. Speaking of the memories that our patients and their loved ones have, while creating new ones.
I approach working with patients and their loved ones with compassion, respect, and in a non-judgmental manner. I approach patients and their families how I would want to be approached during a difficult and emotional time.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career as a hospice social worker?
Meet your patient and their loved ones where they are at- listening to understand what their needs, values, and desires are during this time.
Be kind to yourself- practice lots of self care!
Be your genuine self.
Lastly, have a playlist of songs or podcasts to listen to throughout your travels!

Bri Eastman

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a hospice social worker, and how do you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I face as a hospice social worker is compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is secondhand stress experienced by the social worker that comes from a place of empathy, while helping patients through their own stresses and trauma at end-of-life. Someone once told me that “being a good social worker and never experiencing compassion fatigue is like walking through a pool of water and expecting you won’t get wet,” (i.e. it’s impossible to avoid and it will happen!). When I notice compassion fatigue, I lean into my self-care routines: 1) setting personal after-work boundaries that help me separate work & home life, so I can be fully present and enjoy quality time with my friends and family, 2) checking in with my supervisor and / or therapist about how I’m feeling, and 3) blasting my favorite music while I’m driving or in the shower, singing my heart out!

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career as a hospice social worker?

Above all, human connection will be what helps you succeed. Beyond the resources, phone calls, and paperwork, families are allowing you into their homes during one of the most fragile times of their life. Lead with love, empathy, compassion, and genuine interest. Learn what makes each and every patient special and delve into those pieces fully. I don’t often remember all of the resources I helped each family receive… but what I do remember is how their loved one played the guitar, recorded their original songs and shared them with me; Or how they reconnected with their spouse at a small coffee shop by chance after college ended, realizing that their friendship was never lost even after several years apart, which eventually blossomed into a loving family with 3 children. Stay grounded and be human, and you will succeed in hospice social work.

Thank you to all of our Social Workers!