Part 5 – ACE/Horizon Home Health Care & Hospice: What Is A Medical Social Worker?


A medical social worker helps coordinate a holistic care plan for patients recovering from an injury, living with chronic illness, or entering hospice – and the patient always comes first.

Did you know that a home health care team needs to include a medical social worker? Do you know what a medical social worker is?

Mr. Vergrie McCord, a medical social worker for more than 23 years, explains that this is a caregiver with a combination of psychological, case management, and professional experience.

Whether a patient returns home to live with a chronic illness, recover from an injury, or perhaps enter hospice, McCord says that working with family members and the caregiver team to develop a comprehensive and holistic care plan is the main role for a medical social worker.

When asked what is special about a Horizon medical social worker, McCord said, “Horizon emphasizes that the social worker role is a valuable and integral part of the team philosophy of patient-centered work. The patient is the priority.”

“In the home setting, I’m uniquely qualified to help coordinate the care plan needed by the patient.” he added.

A medical social worker coordinates with professionals such as physical and occupational therapists, home health aides, nursing staff, and medical doctors. An assessment includes looking at the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of a patient and family, along with safety factors of the home.

Carefully planning a comprehensive curative or palliative care plan means a patient and their family members can remain in their own surroundings longer, with maximum comfort and resources.

When asked about curative vs. hospice care, McCord emphasized advance care directives.

“It can be scary to do advance planning,” says McCord. “We help the patient and family members make decisions, and execute the needed documents. If the patient cannot make decisions, we help family members reach agreements among themselves.”

“The role of the medical social worker is holistic,” says McCord. “We must be creative in addressing the needs of the patient, and advocating for them.”

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