Social Workers Get New Standards for End-of-Life Care

Social Workers Get New Standards for End-of-Life Care

Jennifer LeClaire, Monster Contributing Writer

A Look at the Guidelines

The new guidelines set forth 11 basic standards:

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Min. Education: Master's
Related Careers: Psychologist, Rehabilitation Counselor

• “Ethics and Values” offers advice on dealing with conflicts related to religion, spirituality and the meaning of life.

• “Knowledge” outlines the essential areas of knowledge about the medical and social systems that social workers must possess to provide effective care.

• “Assessment” discusses the areas that social workers must consider when conducting a comprehensive patient assessment.

• “Intervention and Treatment Planning” deals with the skills social workers need to provide effective palliative and end-of-life care and the types of interventions social workers must be prepared to perform.

• “Attitude/Self-Awareness” promotes the importance of compassion and empathy.

• “Empowerment and Advocacy” describes the social worker’s responsibilities and role in ensuring equal access to quality healthcare.

• “Documentation” addresses the need for social workers to record all social work service performed with regard to a patient’s care.

• “Interdisciplinary Teamwork” discusses guidelines for collaborative relationships with other healthcare workers.

• “Cultural Competence” reinforces the need for social workers to respect the ways of individual cultures with respect to palliative and end-of-life care issues.

• “Continuing Education” makes clear the social worker’s responsibility to continue professional development in palliative and end-of-life care.

• “Supervision, Leadership and Training” calls on social workers with expertise in this speciality to lead educational, supervisory, administrative and research efforts.

Another aspect of working in palliative and end-of-life care is professional grief management. Social workers admit that witnessing pain and suffering can be difficult. Clark says social workers can cope with these feelings by focusing on the value they offer to patients during healthcare crises.

“The patient may be dying, but if you can help them end their life with dignity, then that can be a tremendous gift,” Clark says. “The social worker’s role is to place dying on the continuum of life. A lot of people don’t know what to expect when they are dying. That’s something we can talk about and help them and their families prepare for.”

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