Understanding the roles of social workers in palliative care
Hildebrand, Laura Amanda
MetadataShow full item record
Palliative care is an approach intended to improve the quality of life for individuals who have been diagnosed with an untreatable condition and pending death. Social workers are members of palliative care interdisciplinary teams who serve to improve the quality of life for palliative individuals. Frequently social workers have difficulty defining the roles they perform thus impacting their confidence levels as well as impacting team member knowledge of what social workers do. This research aims to understand the roles of social workers who provide palliative care services to individuals and family members. Data was collected through facilitation of two focus groups with registered social workers who have an interest in palliative care. The data revealed five roles the social workers perform including serving as members of interdisciplinary teams, case management, re-interpreter of the health care system, providing psychological support, and a system navigator. The data revealed social workers strongly value establishing therapeutic rapport with palliative individuals and their family members, which serves as a tool to effectively perform their roles. There were additional findings that emerged in the research that highlight identified strengths that social workers bring to palliative care including social workers’ ability to establish therapeutic rapport, and knowledge that social workers have pertaining to palliative care and using self-reflective practice. This research further suggests that social workers are unique in their ability to adapt in their roles to meet the individual needs of each palliative individual.