Social care jobs tend to be very varied depending on the nature of the role and the focus group in need of care. Working in a hospice is often perceived to be difficult or depressing due to the unique needs of the patients, but in fact many hospice workers find their work extremely rewarding and uplifting. While working in a hospice is often challenging, they say that the opportunity to provide high quality end of life care places them in a position of considerable privilege.
At a time when life expectancy is increasing with better medical care and earlier intervention to tackle illnesses, hospices are playing an increasingly important part in providing care for patients in the last stages of their lives. Some professionals argue that, as medicine becomes less person-centred, the hands-on treatment provided by hospices sets them apart from hospitals and clinics.
Hospice workers tend to work in small teams to support patients approaching the end of their lives, and their families. In this way, each worker is able to develop a more personal relationship with their patients, so that each individual is regarded as a unique individual whose needs count despite their terminal illness. Many hospice workers cite the person-centred approach as the main reason for their decision to work in a hospice, mirroring their initial motivations for entering the health service.
Hospice workers may have a medical background, but all have made the conscious decision to place patients and their families at the heart of their work. To be able to work successfully in a hospice they need a broad range of people skills, including empathy, the ability to listen, compassion and diplomacy. Often, the support offered is not just for the patient who is approaching the end of their life, but for the family whose needs will extend long beyond the death of their loved one.
Duties vary greatly as the team of professionals in a hospice may include nurses, carers, social workers and therapists. For those providing immediate care, responsibilities include assisting with daily needs such as bathing, using the toilet, dressing and feeding, while medical staff are involved with administering medicines and overseeing the general health of residents, as well as communicating with family members to keep them up-to-date. Many hospice workers have specialised knowledge they can share with other health professionals.
Working in a hospice to offer patients palliative care at the end of their lives may be challenging at times, but there is no doubt that the opportunity to offer hands-on support to people at their most needy is, for many, a rewarding career unlike any other.