The Hospice Whanganui social work and family support role has various streams to it.
One is to provide very practical support to patients and their families who often find themselves having to access agencies in the community that they may not have dealt with before. For example, often the illness leads to many financial pressures for people, when going to work is no longer an option. At the same time illness-related costs become greater. Sometimes a family member has to give up work in order to become the main caregiver. The Hospice social worker is able to assist with the WINZ process and ensures that people get all the benefits and allowances that they are entitled to.
Similarly, assistance is available for people who need disability parking stickers, taxi vouchers, medical alarms, will making, Enduring Power of Attorney and more. Other information is available regarding rates rebates, housing alterations, residential care options, meals on wheels, mobility scooters, funeral costs etc as required.
Another part of the social work and family support role is to address the social and emotional needs of patients and their families. This is done on referral from the nursing staff, where they view a patient or family members to be struggling with issues that they need assistance with. Once a referral is made the social worker discusses the issues with the patient or family member. Support can be short-term or ongoing, as needs dictate.
The social work position also provides a helpful ‘bridge’ between Hospice support to patients and their families, and bereavement work; since part of the social worker’s responsibility is to provide a bereavement service, together with the spiritual support staff and bereavement volunteers.