Hospice Social Worker


Medical social workers play a key role in hospice care, helping patients and families with emotional support, care planning, community resources, support with funeral arrangements and more. They complement the wider hospice care team, ensuring patients with life-limiting illnesses are treated medically, emotionally, psychosocially and spiritually.

What Is a Hospice Social Worker?

Hospice social workers are licensed professionals with medical social work training and certifications, focusing on end-of-life care. They work from a more holistic perspective to address the unique emotional, psychosocial and practical needs of patients and their families.

Is hospice the answer for you or a loved one? Complete our brief form to speak to a specialist.

*If you are a current Amedisys patient, please contact your Care Center directly.

What Does a Hospice Social Worker Do?

Hospice social workers support patient care in the following ways:

Providing Emotional Support

They offer a compassionate presence, providing a safe space for patients and caregivers to express their fears and concerns about the end of life. They help patients cope with the psychological and emotional challenges that often accompany this challenging time, fostering a sense of understanding and acceptance.

Care Planning

Hospice social workers work closely with the patient and their loved ones to navigate treatment options, advance care planning and general end-of-life preferences. Social workers have expertise and can assist the patient in developing an advance directive in writing to ensure the patient’s wishes for their final days are respected and honored.

Accessing Community Resources

A key duty of the social worker is to connect patients and families with community resources and support like counseling, support groups and bereavement services outside of what’s provided as part of hospice care. They may also help find any other resources needed like legal support, financial assistance or navigating insurance paperwork and benefits.

Facilitating Open Communication

Hospice social workers help facilitate open and honest communication among family members, helping to address any conflicts, set realistic expectations and foster a supportive and nurturing environment. They also facilitate communication among the larger hospice care team, ensuring the patients’ end-of-life preferences are known and respected by all team members.

Eligibility for Hospice

Hospice social workers are part of the overall hospice benefit provided by Medicare and other qualifying programs. To qualify for hospice care under Medicare, the following requirements must be met:

  • Your doctor certifies that you have a terminal illness, with six months or less to live if the disease runs its normal course.
  • You’re ready to stop treatments to cure your illness and instead focus on treatments that improve your comfort and quality of life.
  • Your hospice provider is Medicare-approved.

How to Become a Hospice Social Worker

Working as a hospice social worker is a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those hoping to make a lasting difference in people’s lives. Consider the following requirements to become a hospice social worker:

Educational Requirements

Hospice social workers may hold a master’s degree in social work (MSW) or a bachelor’s degree (BSW) from an accredited social work program, gaining a strong foundation in social work principles, ethics and practices. Social workers with a Bachelor of Social Work degree can provide care under the supervision of a social worker with a master’s degree.

Licensing and Certification

After obtaining the MSW or BSW degree, candidates must also obtain state licensures, often including a licensure exam and a certain amount of supervised clinical hours.

Ready to start your career in hospice?

*If you're unsure of which position to apply to, feel free to talk to a recruiter directly.

Skills and Qualities

Some hospice agencies like Amedisys require a minimum of one year of social work experience prior to working in hospice care. Here are some additional qualities that contribute to making an excellent hospice social worker:

  • Empathy – Being empathetic and compassionate allows social workers to connect with patients on an emotional level, providing the right support and understanding.
  • Communication – Social workers need to be able to facilitate difficult but honest conversations among family members and among the larger hospice care team.
  • Crisis Intervention – Social workers should be able to handle crises and provide emotional support during moments of high stress, navigating these situations with a calming and reassuring presence.
  • Cultural Competence – Recognizing and respecting unique cultural perspectives is essential in hospice care. Social workers should be culturally competent, understanding how patients’ varied cultural beliefs and practices may influencer their end-of-life preferences and decision-making processes.
  • Collaboration – Social workers must work seamlessly with other members of the interdisciplinary care team, including physicians, nurses and chaplains to ensure comprehensive and holistic care.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Keeping up to date on new practices, technologies and approaches is key for any healthcare professional. Companies like Amedisys offer continuing educational programs for team members, with pathways to other healthcare professions available.

How to Find Hospice Care Near You

You can complete the form below or visit our full location directory to discover if Amedisys offers hospice care in your area. Our team can help you and your loved ones assess if it’s time to talk to your doctor about hospice care.


Close Video