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End-of-Life Care and Social Work Practice (Research Paper Sample)


The role of social work practice in Hospice or palliative care. The task was to show how a social worker can play a role in palliative/hospice care. This entails conducting psychosocial assessments, coordinating care, providing counseling and psychotherapy, intervening in client crisis situations, and educating patients and families about their treatment plan and the available resources and support systems.


End-of-Life Care and Social Work Practice
Student's Name
Department, University
End-of-Life Care and Social Work Practice
Over the years, life expectancy has increased continuously due to improved technology and advancements in the medical field. The developments have significantly heightened the number of elderly persons seeking care services during their old age and particularly towards the end-life. At the same time, the emergence of different diseases like cancer and an increased number of injuries due to accidents, natural phenomenon, and terror attacks escalate the possibilities that most social workers may interact with individuals facing imminent death. Death and grief are common matters that most social workers handle across different practice contexts. Coordinating with the relatives of chronically ill patients and guiding them through such difficult times is a crucial social work role. To effectively offer support to patients and their relatives, social workers need values such as compassion, comprehensive expert skills, and an open mind towards death. Social workers provide physical, spiritual, and psychological support as well as legal advice and education to patients as they plan for end-of-life.
Social workers ensure that chronically ill patients receive physical and spiritual support. Most patients under a palliative or hospice care system may experience immense physical agony or uneasiness in the form of fatigue, digestive problems, breathing complications, and temperature sensitivity. In this case, a social worker can administer pain medications prescribed by the doctor to lessen such pain. Social workers can also alleviate patient discomfort by changing the bed position, feeding them, regulating the room temperature, and sponge bathing such patients. Individuals nearing death may find solace in their faith to acquire tranquility and inner peace to come to terms with their imminent demise. A social worker needs cultural awareness on patients to understand their religious beliefs. Here, these helpers may propose praying with the patients or inviting religious leaders such as ministers, imams, priests, or rabbis to talk to the patients about spiritual issues. The social workers may also suggest reading religious scriptures or play religious music to provide spiritual comfort to the patients (Stilos et al., 2020). Easing pain while delivering physical and spiritual comfort to patients nearing their death helps make their remaining days enjoyable and worthwhile.
Social workers give psychological guidance and counseling to chronically ill patients and their kin. Patients under the hospice/ palliative care system mostly experience a horde of challenges ranging from anxiety, social isolation, anger, financial challenges, family disputes, and depression. Such challenges may take a toll on a patient's mental state and even lead to suicidal thoughts. Therefore, it is the mandate of a social worker practitioner to deliver psychosocial education on coping skills to help the patients control their emotional distress. Likewise, relatives of dying patients are susceptible to stress, shock, sadness, depression, and fear, among other reactions upon learning their loved ones' critical states. This may result in denial and psychological turmoil, necessitating social workers' psychotherapy to accept reality. Social workers may incorporate distinct social work approaches to assist such patients, and their relatives assess and regulate their emotions to overcome their psychological distress (Wang et al., 2017). These modalities may include DBT, CBT, and supportive psychotherapy. Not to mention, social workers also assist patients and their relatives in comprehending the treatment procedures and available interventions. Under palliative care arrangement, professionals in this field may advise on enhancing patient comfort while evaluating various interventions and evidence-based practices to help treat the illness. Alternatively, in hospice care, the social workers can only advise on how to enhance patient comfort till their death.
Hospice/palliative social workers assist in mitigating patient crises. Such crises may result from family conflicts, negligence, or abuse. In such cases, the social workers may offer psychological support to help the patients solve the crises. For example, a patient-family conflict may result from a patient's preference for physician-assisted suicide. In this context, even though state laws and ethics codes prohibit social workers from advising chronically ill patients on the subject, professionals in this field may be obliged to intervene and mobil

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