Hospice Worker Job Description & Career Outlook

Hospice provides palliative end-of-life care for people who have a prognosis of less than six months to live. Hospice exists to make a patient’s last days as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Patients in hospice are not generally given curative care; they enter hospice in the expectation that they are going to die. Social workers have a number of roles to play as part of a hospice interdisciplinary team. They are responsible for counseling, assessing patients’ emotional state and needs, determining care plans, and making patients and their families aware of the resources available to them.

Hospice Worker Requirements and Common Tasks

Social workers in hospice care often have a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) and most will have a Master’s in Social Work (MSW). It is not necessary to study for a BSW before taking an MSW; many people take post-graduate courses in social work after having studied a related field like psychology at undergraduate level. All states require that social workers are licensed. Because of the particularly sensitive emotions associated with hospice care, workers should be mature individuals with excellent social and organizational skills.

Day-to-day hospice workers are expected to deal with patients who may have significant emotional difficulties and offer advice and counseling. They are also responsible for assessing the needs of patients, tracking the effectiveness of the care and making appropriate recommendations to other hospice professionals, patients and their families.

Hospice Worker Salary and Career Outlook

Hospice workers can expect to make between $34,107 and $58,931 depending on experience and training. Hospice is a growing business in America. About a third of terminal patients choose to enter hospice care, and that number is growing, with more institutions being opened every year to cope with the demand. There is a strong job market for hospice workers.

How to Become a Hospice Worker

Successful hospice care depends on volunteers in addition to the professional care team. Therefore, an excellent way to make a start in this field is to gain experience by volunteering for a local hospice organization. Aspiring hospice workers should also aim to study for a bachelor’s degree in social work, or a related field, followed by a master’s degree in social work.