As Senior VP and Chief Clinical Officer for Hosparus Health, Terri Graham oversees an extensive program that provides care to 1,000 hospice patients a day across 33 counties in the region. But as part of the Hosparus Health mission to provide hospice and palliative care that enhances end of life, Terri and the other care providers treat each one of those 1,000 patients as a unique individual, developing a plan of care in conjunction with the patient and family.

“We want to consider what it is for each person that could make the end of their journey the most special for them,” said Graham. To help achieve that daily mission, Hosparus Health is seeking to fill the position of Executive Director of Social Services and Counseling. The multi-faceted position will lead the teams of social workers, chaplains, and grief counselors who support individuals who are nearing end of life and their families.

Executive Director of Social Services and Counseling

Qualifications and requirements for this director position include at least three years working as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with preferred experience as a LCSW Supervisor; a minimum of eight years of experience working in a non-profit or healthcare setting, and a minimum of five years management experience of counseling services and programs.

Graham, who has been with Hosparus Health for seven years, said the position is based on a holistic model that needs an experienced leader who can help the organization to continue to grow and improve the counseling, social, and spiritual care and services they provide. “We need someone who understands the medical and nursing component, but can lead us in continually improving the spiritual, social services and grief counseling components. This leader needs to make sure we’re staying current with new techniques and best practices, and that we’re consistent in utilizing those practices across the system.”

Graham said she needs someone with experience in helping patients and families with the the complex array of emotional and spiritual needs they face at end of life. “Generally, the number one thing for our patients is to get their physical pain and symptoms under control, and then they can start to think about the other things they need, what they want to get in order. We need somebody can support our care providers in giving that holistic care.”

Closure and reconciliation

For many patients, Graham said, the issue might be as simple as getting some things about their life on paper or in pictures to leave something behind for family members. For others, it may be a reconciliation with estranged family members, like a recent experience where a mother reconnected with her daughter by reaching out and calling her.

In addition to the hospice care and social services, this new director position will oversee grief counseling services across the Hosparus Health system including the grief counseling center in Louisville as well as the offices in New Albany, Elizabethtown, Campbellsville, Glasgow and Bowling Green.

Amy Sloboda, Director of Grief Counseling for Hosparus Health for 14 years, provides direct clinical supervision over all the counselors at these centers. She said “This role is broader than many other hospital or hospice roles because it includes this large grief counseling program. We also do a lot of program development such as memorial services or special events.” said Sloboda.

Hosparus Health is continuing to grow, attributable in part to an aging population. However, the organization is not just for the elderly; it helps anyone at end of life, including many young adults, and children with life limiting illnesses. Graham said our counselors, social workers, and chaplains help not only the patient, but also help the whole family face and prepare for what’s coming. It may include, in the case of a single parent, addressing arrangements for the children after the parent passes. This director position is going to be working to coordinate all these services and programs, and working closely with social workers, chaplains and grief counselors while also considering the needs of Hosparus Health staff members.

“We grieve too,” said Graham.

From the community, Graham gets a standard response from those who think the emotional toll of having a job at Hosparus Health would be too high. “They say, ‘I don’t know how you do that every day.’ But our staff do it because they are really committed to the mission,” she said. We always remind ourselves that while this may be the third or fourth visit we’re making that day; for each family, it’s their first time going through this. If we don’t make each one of our visits the best one it can be, you don’t get a do-over.”

Graham said it is an industry-wide struggle to communicate to people that hospice care is a six-month benefit, and to get people to call early enough to have time to make their death meaningful for them. Ideally, she said, the new director will assist in community education and outreach and help increase the awareness  of Hosparus Health services.

“Unfortunately, we often don’t get called until the very last minute,” said Graham. “While we can get the physical symptoms alleviated, such as pain management, there are many emotional, spiritual, and social needs that may go unmet.”

For example, Graham continued, “We want people to think about things such as, What do you want your death to be like? Do you want to be in your own home? Do you want music playing? Who do you want to be around you? Sometimes we need a social worker or chaplain to guide us and facilitate having some of those conversations.

“We plan for coming into this world. We plan for nine months. It’s a celebration. I believe that the end of our life should be just as important. We should plan and prepare for it to be special and the way we want it to be.. Not all of us will get this opportunity, but what’s rewarding for us is when we do get to connect and make each individual’s end of life special.”

What’s next?

Does Hosparus Health sound like a good fit for you? If so, go here for more information and to apply.

Not your thing? If you know someone who would be interested in this position, send this article to them.