A day in the life of a Knysna Sedgefield Hospice Social Worker

What does your job entail?
As social workers we interact very closely with our patients and their families to help address any problematic situations they may face, from basic physical needs to helping them and their families keep perspective and prepare for the end of life situation.

Describe your average work day?
As social workers we spend a lot of time ‘in the field’ in our patient’s homes. We go into their homes to assess their social and psychosocial needs. Sometimes we help with practical issues like documentation, social grants, referrals to network partners, counselling, family meetings and encouraging patients. We occasionally advocate for our patients with government departments and other NPOs.

Best part of my job?
Meeting the families of patients and discovering their support systems and potential.

Worst part of my job?
Preparing a spouse or a patient’s children for the death of their family member. In addition one of the biggest struggles we face is encountering the neglect of the elderly.

Why did you choose this career?
The wide field in which our training is useful is wonderful! From human resources to working with children, from hospitals to old age homes.

How to become a Hospice Social Worker?
After doing a caregiver and bereavement course in 1995, I volunteered at Knysna Sedgefield Hospice for a while and then was thrilled to be offered a position as a social worker here in 1996.

Qualifications needed
One has to have a degree or diploma in Social Work. You also need to be registered with the South African Society for Social Work Professionals.

Where did you train?
I obtained my social work degree through Stellenbosch University.