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 bracket lack enough time to prepare for their death as well a support. A majority of people report that they do not get the support they need during the end of life care. Due to the fact that there is a diverse culture because of people’s backgrounds, religions, beliefs, culture and experiences, 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 care giving 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 the patient, but also the family, health professionals and care givers (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 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 end of life.
As social workers, their role is also to identify the opportunities that will help the patients deal with end of life planning and how to manage their overall well-being- mental, physical, emotional, social, and financial (Cagle & Kovacs, 2009). Social workers explain to the patients workable treatment and care plans that match with 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 instil knowledge about the available resources in palliative care either 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 each with 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 the 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 meaning and rewarding.
To sum it, social workers play a critical in a patient and their families during end of life. Most patients need preparation for death and also their families. As such, the role of social workers in hospice/palliative care are there to provide information about how to deal with death, financial constraints, isolation, and emotional difficulties. During 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 upon the needs of each patient and their family. Some patient have more needs depending on the level of their situation. Some need help with living arrangement, while others are more dependent. At each step of end of life a patient, social workers are there to assist in the transition process.
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 Medicine, 24(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 Work, 34(1), 17-27.
Nelson, T. D. (2016). Promoting healthy aging by confronting ageism. American
Psychologist, 71(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 care, 7(4), 383-406.
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