October 5, 2018

Living with Dignity to the End

CarePartners Hospice social workers support patients and their families when they need it most

Compassion. There’s no better way to describe how social workers with CarePartners Hospice operate. Whether they’re helping a patient transition from home care to assisted living or aiding a family in making final arrangements, they do it with kindness and empathy. Part of a team of professionals, they offer physical, emotional and spiritual support to patients with life-limiting or terminal illnesses. Expert navigators of all types of issues, hospice social workers provide support that benefits both patient and family. “We don’t get in the boat to help drive, we get in the boat to help paddle,” explained Elizabeth Lewis, a social worker with CarePartners Hospice.

From coordinating healthcare to helping patients access community resources, no two days are alike, and every patient is unique. Personalized care is at the foundation of the program.

“We get to know the identity of the individual and their family,” said Christopher Chardos, LCSW, CarePartners Hospice social worker. “The better we get to know them, the better able we are to support them.”

A Unique Caregiver

When Tracy Boone got a call in June of last year about being the healthcare power of attorney for patient Gloria McVicar, she couldn’t have been more surprised. “I didn’t know Gloria, she chose me,” said Boone. A minister at the Times of Refreshing IPHC church, Boone had only briefly met McVicar once before.

Suffering from COPD, McVicar was moved from her home into a CarePartners assisted living facility and eventually a skilled care facility. Social workers Elizabeth Lewis and Christopher Chardos supported McVicar and her caregiver Boone throughout their journey until McVicar’s passing in February. “If it had not been for Libby and Christopher, I couldn’t have done it,” said. Boone. “There wasn’t a time when I called that they weren’t there. They became my family.”

“We are there for the family as much as the patient,” said Chardos. “We bring peace of mind, and we have the ability to make an impact on the individual by supporting the caregiver.”

Whether they were helping Boone move McVicar’s personal belongings between homes or assisting her with coordinating final arrangements, the CarePartners hospice social workers were invaluable, said Boone.

Social workers Lewis and Chardos also provided McVicar with counseling and support. “We helped her make peace with some of her life’s challenges,” said Chardos. “She was able to find peace, which was huge in her having a peaceful and dignified transition. It’s important for patients to no longer be struggling with past life events — to make their final chapter smooth, peaceful and loving.”

Help When It’s Needed Most

The journey from good health to a terminal prognosis can sometimes be a short one. “For a lot of people, things happen so quickly there’s not a lot of time to make decisions,” said Chardos.

CarePartners Hospice social workers are adept at helping patients and their families navigate these difficult times.

“We’re certainly not the preconceived notion of what people think of as social workers — someone coming to review their home and take them away,” said Lewis. “We have no preset agenda. We’re there to support and help them so they don’t feel like they’re all alone.”

Helping patients sort through information and navigate decisions also helps reduce misinformation and keeps them from feeling overwhelmed, explained Lewis. “We help them make sense of the process and find resources; we help them cut down on their need to Google,” she said.

Providing care for the body, mind and spirit — for both patient and caregiver — allows the family to continue to function and operate as a family unit, said Chardos. And while training and information are abundant when it comes to bringing a new life into the world, there isn’t as much available for the end of life, he explained. “It’s like they’re going to a foreign land, and we are the travel guide. It truly is an honor that we get to be in someone’s life in such a critical and sacred time.”

“A lot of what we do is showing up and having compassion for another human being — letting them know they aren’t alone,” said Chardos. “We share their space and their grief, their tears, and joy. We look them in their eyes and let them know they’re not alone. Sometimes people don’t have a lot of love in their life, and we’re the first group of people to give them unconditional love — to meet them where they are is powerful and humbling.”

“I will never forget them, they went above the call of duty. To this day, they will always have a special place in my heart,” said Boone.


Christopher Chardos, LCSW, is a social worker with CarePartners Hospice. Elizabeth Lewis is a social worker with CarePartners Hospice.

To learn more about CarePartners Hospice services, call 828-255-0231 or visit carepartners.org.

About CarePartners Hospice Solace Center

When hospice care at home is no longer an option, our beautiful, home-like facility allows CarePartners Hospice patients to have an improved quality of life in their final days. The Hospice Solace Center was designed to offer adult and pediatric hospice patients an environment that is as comfortable
and close to home as possible. Our 27 private rooms are spacious, with natural woodwork and views of our surrounding gardens. The center
features:

  • Great Room with a grand piano and fireplace
  • Fully equipped kitchen and dining room for families
  • Chapel with handcrafted stained glass art
  • Easily accessible natural areas and gardens with a gazebo, a labyrinth and space for visiting or contemplation

 

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