Michelle Anesu had been exposed to the role of a medical social worker as a young adult. She always knew it was a career path she would love. She received her bachelor’s degree in social work followed shortly after by a master’s degree leading her to her first professional job in social work – and the rest was history.
“My first job was as a licensed social worker was in child welfare and I worked in a medically fragile child-care unit,” says Anesu. “That opened my eyes to the medical world of illness and disorders.”
Medical Social Work in Hospice Care – Rewarding and Impactful
That role gave Anesu insight into medical social work and she soon was working in a hospice role. She fell in love instantly with the patients and families.
“I was worried that hospice social work would be ‘sad’ day in and day out,” says Anesu. “But I quickly realized that hospice work was my heart and was what I wanted to do with my career.”
Anesu shares that during hospice care, patients and families are at a very vulnerable point in their lives and some patients and families may feel alone or lost in their healthcare journey.
“Even though patients and families are sometimes uncertain of what and how hospice care can impact the journey, most families will allow you in,” Anesu shares. “That is very meaningful and touching and you realize that you can help make an impact and a difference for the patient and the family. Being able to make a connection and be a resource as part of the hospice care team is very rewarding.”
How Can Medical Social Workers Impact Palliative and Hospice Care?
Palliative Care: In a palliative care role, medical social workers get the opportunity to do counseling and assist with connecting the patient and family with resources like advanced directives.
Hospice Care: Initially, a hospice care social worker can provide a patient assessment and help with connecting resources, working through paperwork like advanced directives, help families plan for final arrangements – and really provide much-needed education for the patient and family.
“Many families have never gone through the process of losing a loved one,” Anesu says. “They are not sure what to expect and as a social worker, I assist as families navigate that journey and help them to understand what to expect and how to draw on their own strengths as they cope with the hospice care journey.”
Social Work Supports Medical Care
Paradigm Health medical social workers are a part of the clinical and interdisciplinary hospice care team and work closely with nurses, aids, chaplains, and volunteers – to provide a holistic and community-based approach to a patient’s care no matter where they call home.
“As part of my role, I really enjoy meeting the patients and families and hearing about their life and engaging them in a life review,” says Anesu. “Sharing that time with a patient as they reflect on their lives is something very special for both the patient and the caregiver.”
Anesu reflects on her past three years with Paradigm Health as some of her most fulfilling and rewarding.
“I feel like Paradigm Health respects our social work knowledge, education, training and expertise,” says Anesu. “They really understand that it is a specialized skill set and even though it works alongside clinical care – it is different, and we are trusted to do our job each day with patient and family care as a priority.”
Recently, one of Anesu’s hospice care patients was able to go out to lunch with friends and family to celebrate her 88th birthday.
“That brings the Paradigm Health hospice care team such joy,” Anesu says. “We are always focused on the living and enrichment of life every day and that includes birthday celebrations. It is a total mind – body – spirit approach and we strive to make sure all are supported.”