End-of-Life Care and Social Work Practice

Palliative care for end-of-life is important to everyone. Millions of people die each year due to life-limiting experiences that require complex needs. In most cases, people expect these deaths while in others they are not predictable. Many people within the old age bracket lack enough time to prepare for their death as well as a support system. A majority of people report that they do not get the support they need at the end of life care. Additionally, considering the diverse cultures and different people from different backgrounds, religions, beliefs, and experiences, sometimes it is hard to determine how they prefer their experiences during death. As such, the role of social workers during palliative care in end of life is critical in caregiving to the patient, as well as their families.

A comprehensive and standardized approach to the end of life care looks into issues pertaining not only to the patient, but also the family, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (Nelson, 2016).  As such, patients who need palliative care tend to experience extreme challenges such as anxiety, depression, anger, fear, intense physical pain, isolation, financial constraints, and family issues (Bosma et al., 2010). Because of this phase in their lives, they carry the emotional burden of sadness and this involves pain management. As a result, palliative social workers are critical when it comes to guiding the patients and their families when dealing with the challenges that come with the end of life.

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As social workers, their role is also to identify the opportunities that will help the patients deal with the end of life planning and how to manage their overall well-being, mental, physical, emotional, social, and financial issues (Cagle & Kovacs, 2009). Social workers explain to the patients’ workable treatment and care plans that match their needs, show them how to overcome crisis during the time and connect them with complimentary support services. Social workers act as advocates for the patients, as well as their families and instill knowledge about the available resources in palliative care at home or hospital setting.

According to Reese (2011), it is significant to note that palliative care social work is a challenging field. Social workers engage persons who are in fear, anxious, angry and their role is to help them come to terms with their condition. On the other hand, sharing such experiences with patients and their families can also be rewarding. Both social workers and patients form bonds that have a significant impact on their psychological and emotional well-being. Moreover, being part of people’s lives at that critical moment is meaningful and rewarding.

To sum it, social workers play a critical role in helping patients and their families in their end-of-life. Most patients need preparation for death and their families. As such, the role of social workers in hospice/palliative care is there to provide information about how to deal with death, financial constraints, isolation, and emotional difficulties. During the end of life, it is usually a vulnerable moment for families, and social workers become advocates for those who have concerns. In a day, social workers have many roles based on the needs of each patient and their family. Some patients have more needs depending on the level of their situation. Some need help with the living arrangement, while others are more dependent. At each step of end-of-life of a patient, social workers are there to assist in the transition process.

References

Bosma, H., Johnston, M., Cadell, S., Wainwright, W., Abernethy, N., Feron, A., … & Nelson, F. 

(2010). Creating social work competencies for practice in hospice palliative care. Palliative Medicine24(1), 79-87.

Cagle, J. G., & Kovacs, P. J. (2009). Education: A complex and empowering social work 

intervention at the end of life. Health & Social Work34(1), 17-27.

Nelson, T. D. (2016). Promoting healthy aging by confronting ageism. American 

Psychologist71(4), 276.

Reese, D. J. (2011). Interdisciplinary perceptions of the social work role in hospice: Building upon the classic Kulys and Davis study. Journal of social work in end-of-life & palliative care7(4), 383-406.

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