The Penn Wissahickon Hospice Team

The Penn Wissahickon Hospice's services are provided by a team of professionals and volunteers. Together with the patient's doctor and the patient's family, the team develops a plan of care based on the individual patient's needs. Penn Wissahickon Hospice team members include the patient's physician, the hospice medical director, registered nurses, social workers, home health aides, volunteers, chaplains, bereavement counselors and therapists. Each team member performs an important role and helps to ensure that each patient and family receives a high quality level of care.

The Patient's Physician

The patient's physician remains in charge of the patient's medical care and receives updates from the hospice nurse on a regular basis.

Associate Medical Directors

Each team has a medical director. Each team's medical director works with the patient's physician and the hospice interdisciplinary team on the care plan. Care plans are reviewed regularly with the team. The team's medical director will:
  • provide consultation as requested by patient's physician
  • provide medical oversight of care plan including general medical needs of the patient in conjunction with the patient's physician
  • review needed changes in the plan of care with the patient's physician as requested by team members
  • make home visits as needed to adjust plan of care
  • provide emergency prescriptions when patient's physician is temporarily unavailable

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses provide in-home care based on the patient's physician's orders. Nurses visit the patient 1-3 times weekly or daily in a time of crisis. The Penn Wissahickon Hospice has nurses available to help solve problems 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will:

  • work with the patient's physician to control pain and manage symptoms of the patient's disease
  • teach the patient and family about the patient's disease, medications and treatments.
  • provide skilled nursing care
  • assess the patient's current physical condition
  • arrange for special medical services in the home, such as drawing blood
  • support efforts to enhance the patient's quality of life
  • prepare the family for an in-home death; discuss signs and symptoms of approaching death and what to expect at the time of death

Social Workers

Social workers offer counseling and emotional support to the patient and the patient's family. Visits are scheduled weekly or as needed. Social workers will:

  • help patients and families cope with fears and stress
  • provide information to complete advance directives
  • help families to adjust to role changes caused by the patient's illness
  • talk about the illness with children
  • recommend when to request help from family and friends
  • encourage cooperation within the family
  • help patients and families understand their fears, feelings, and frustrations
  • help patients and families maintain coping skills
  • help patients and families put closure on relationships
  • facilitate care in a skilled nursing facility as necessary
  • Help the family with funeral plans

Home Health Aides

Home health aides are trained in personal care and the special needs of hospice patients. Visits are scheduled 3-5 times a week as needed: (under special conditions aides may be provided up to 7 times a week.) They work under the direction of the registered nurse. Aides provide assistance with:

  • bathing
  • shampooing hair
  • dressing and feeding
  • giving special skin care
  • changing bed linens
  • straightening the room after care is given
  • helping with exercise


Volunteers visit the patient 1-2 times weekly or as needed. Volunteers are familiar with the community in which the patient lives and are specially trained to provide many different services including:

  • relief for caregivers, such as sitting with the patient while the caregiver goes out on brief errands
  • transportation for medical purposes including office visits with the patient's physician
  • phone calls to support the patient and family
  • emotional support for the patient and family
  • transportation for shopping and other errands


Chaplains can provide pastoral care for patients and families of all faiths. A basic belief of hospice is that each of us is a spiritual being who is looking for personal peace and answers to life's questions. The chaplain can:

  • ease spiritual pain
  • contact the family?s minister, priest or rabbi
  • read scripture
  • pray and sing
  • provide spiritual music, books and articles
  • comfort the patient and family members

Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy

PT, OT, or ST is available if ordered by the patiens physician.

Bereavement Counselors

The Penn Wissahickon Hospice offers supportive services to survivors of hospice patients during the year following a patient's death. Counselors help survivors express and work through their feelings of loss and grief. All bereavement services are provided at no charge. Bereavement services include:

  • individual grief counseling
  • support groups
  • grief recovery workshops