March is National Social Work Month: Meet EveryStep's Dana McCarthy

March is National Social Work Month, an observance first created in 1963 and formally signed into law in 1984. At EveryStep, social workers are essential to delivering care and services to Iowans.

Dana McCarthy is an EveryStep Hospice social worker with the metro Des Moines team. Her career in caregiving began 33 years ago. She worked at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines before transitioning into hospice care with EveryStep.

A hospice social worker’s duties include coordinating care, providing counseling, intervening in client crisis situations, and educating patients and families about their treatment plan and the available resources and support systems.

“It's an honor to care for others at end-of-life and learn from their life journey. Everyone has a story, which I am blessed to hear, and to explore their life lessons,” says Dana. “Being able to help others or have them help themselves [is an honor]. I feel there is labor coming into this world and there is labor leaving this world. We are those end-of-life coaches, so to speak.”

Being intimately involved with a hospice patient and their family could be emotionally draining, but Dana says recognizing limits and self-care are essential for her to be at her best for the patients she serves.

“I learned to set boundaries early on to be able to take care of myself, so I could take care of others. [This includes] getting outside at the end of the day for a walk or bike ride, and appreciating the little things in life.”

Dana says she’s honored to have the opportunity to provide hospice care. “There have been so many stories with patients and families. We try to make this the best experience we can for them with the help of guidance and understanding. It's a privilege to walk this journey with patients and families. It's a gift to be with a person when they take their last breath.”

If you are interested in joining the EveryStep team, visit If you or someone you know needs care or support, complete the confidential "Find Care" form at The form sends a message to EveryStep staff who then follow up with a phone call. It's a great way to start a conversation and get answers with no cost or commitment. EveryStep can connect the individual to its own programs and services that may be helpful, as well as services offered by other organizations and providers in the community.