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Walden Role of Social Workers in Palliative End of Life and Bereavement Care Response

Walden Role of Social Workers in Palliative End of Life and Bereavement Care Response

Question Description

Respond to at least two different colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways:

  • Offer an insight about the comparison between palliative care and hospice care.
  • Expand on your colleague’s post by providing a different perspective on the roles of a social worker in palliative care.

DB 1


Palliative care is interdisciplinary care that aims to improve quality of life for patients living with any serious illness, and their families; ideally, it begins at diagnosis and is provided concordantly with other disease-directs treatments. Early palliative care is encouraged by international agencies such as the World Health Organization, which states explicitly that “palliative care is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life.” Several studies have shown that early involvement of specialized palliative care services for patients with advanced cancer improves quality of life, increases satisfaction with care mitigates depression. Nevertheless, referrals to palliative care are typically made late in the disease course (Zimmermann, et al., 2016).

Social support is generally provided by informal sources like spouses, family, friends, and colleagues and formal sources such as medical, health, and social professionals and hands-on caregiver (nursing assistants, patient assistants, and volunteers). Better understood as a social interaction closely related to its specific context, some show that the perception of the balance between giving and receiving social support has a positive effect on the recipient. Giving support can have a favorable effect on family caregivers but on the other hand it may be emotionally and physically exhausting. However, receiving support from others (formal or informal sources) may play a key role to help cope throughout the course of the illness and to reduce family caregiver stress. Nevertheless, the social support can have a negative effect when it does not meet the caregivers’ needs and when it is felt to be imposed. The perceived availability of support may also have a positive effect even if the recipient does not benefit. It is important to support the caregiver responding to the challenge of caring for a terminally ill person (Lessard, Leclerc, & Mongeau, 2014).

Many hospitals have established Palliative Care Teams. These teams typically consist of trained palliative care physicians, nurses, chaplains, and social workers. Social workers eligible for this level of a position typically require the additional credentials of an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Social Worker (ACHP-SW). To obtain this licensure, a master’s degree in Social Work is required. In addition, twenty CEUs related to hospice and palliative care, documentation of at least two years of supervised social work experience in hospice or palliative care, current license adherence to NASW Code of Ethics and NASW Standards for End-of-Life Care need to be secured (National Association of Social Workers {NASW}, 2015). Medical social workers routinely work with patients and families that are dealing with acute or chronic life-limiting illnesses. These difficult situations often require knowledge and skills to help patients and their families navigate an already confusing medical system. Prior to the development of palliative care, patients were offered hospice services when they were facing life-limiting illnesses. However, to qualify, a physician was required to certify that the patient had a limited life expectancy of no more than six months. This excluded many patients that were struggling with chronic, debilitating illnesses that often left them in pain. With the creation of palliative care, patients were no longer required to be facing an imminent death or be opting out of curative treatments to receive symptom management (Rubischko, 2016).


Lessard, S., Leclerc, B.-S., & Mongeau, s. (2014). Family Caregivers Perceptions of Palliative care in Home and Unit: The Balance between Given and Received Support. Symbiosis.

Rubischko, K. (2016). Medical Social Worker Perception of Cometence in Palliative Care Consultations. St. Catherine University .

Zimmermann, C., Swami, N., Krzyzanowska, M., Leighl, N., Rydall, A., Rodin, G., . . . Hannon, B. (2016). Perceptions of pallitative care among patinets with advanced cancer and their caregivers. CMAJ, E217 – E227.

DB 2


Post a description of perceptions of palliative care from the perspective of a:

Patient, Caregiver, Social worker

Palliative care, also known as comfort care, is a caregiving approach with the goal of enhancing quality of life and minimizing the amount of suffering for those with a serious illness. Patients who are under palliative care services are most concerned about a person-centered approach and for their care team to gain information and understand what matters most to them. Caregivers of palliative care patients take on a role that can bring stress and strain, as well as unexpected rewards. As a palliative care social worker, one should advocate for the needs, decisions and rights of the patient and their family (Cadell et al., 2010). Social workers are responsible for the facilitation and delivery of care planning for palliative care patients (Cadell et al., 2010). “The emotional experience of care is the most significant aspect documented by patients and carers” (Sampson et al., 2014). “Patients and carers documented having confidence in the palliative care service, but more significantly described changes to confidence brought about by the intervention of palliative care” (Sampson et al., 2014).

Then, explain the roles of social workers in providing palliative care. Compare and contrast the fundamental differences between palliative care and hospice care.

When providing palliative care, the roles of a social worker are essential. Social workers play an important role in the delivery of Hospice Palliative Care in many diverse settings. “For social workers, the focus of practice within this collaborative approach is centered primarily on psychosocial needs at end of life and during bereavement” (Bosma et al., 2010). A social’s expertise in regard to palliative care consists of “health and social systems, individual and family dynamics, cultural diversity, grief and loss, communication, advocacy, ethics, and interdisciplinary practice” (Bosma et al., 2010). Palliative care and hospice care, while similar, have quite a few differences. Palliative care focuses on the pain, symptoms, and stress related to serious illnesses. An individual can receive palliative care services despite their prognosis and life expectancy. Hospice care, on the other hand is for individuals with a serious illness that is measured in month, not years. Hospice services are utilized when curative measures are no treatment is no longer beneficial.

Explain medical conditions where you might consider palliative care over hospice care for a patient. Justify your position. Use examples to illustrate your case.

When considering which is best between the two, palliative care may be the better option for an individual suffering from an illness where curative treatment modalities are still beneficial. That is because palliative care does not put a time limit on prognosis or life expectancy while hospice care does. Hospice care is for patients dealing with life limiting illnesses, typically measured in months, not years. A patient suffering from Alzheimer’s would benefit more from palliative care. “Palliative care helps treat some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, such as depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping” (Alzheimers Disease). Learning triggers to the behaviors and how to prevent them can be another part of treatment, or in other words, symptom management. Palliative care team will help you focus on your goals, concerns, and treatment options, as well as discuss things significant to you, and your preference for level of care in the present and future. (Alzheimers Disease).


Alzheimer’s Disease and Palliative Care. Get Palliative Care.

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.

Cadell, S., Johnston, M., Bosma, H., & Wainright, W. (2010). An overview of contemporary social work practice in palliative care. Progress in Palliative Care, 18(4), 205–211.

Caring Connections. (n.d.). Palliative care questions and answers. Retrieved from…

Sampson, C., Finlay, I., Byrne, A., Snow, V., & Nelson, A. (2014). The practice of palliative care from the perspective of patients and carers. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, 4(3), 291–298.

Sampson, C., Finlay, I., Byrne, A., Snow, V., & Nelson, A. (2014). The practice of palliative care from the perspective of patients and carers. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, 4(3), 291–298.

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