Social Work Practice In Hospitals

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Social Work Practice In Hospitals

Social Work Practice In Hospitals


All social workers, regardless of practice settings, will inevitably work with clients facing acute or long-term situations involving life-limiting illness, dying, death, grief, and bereavement. Using their expertise in working with populations from varying cultures, ages, socioeconomic status, and nontraditional families, social workers help families across the life span in coping with trauma, suicide, and death, and must be prepared to assess such needs and intervene appropriately.

Social work practice settings addressing palliative and end of life care include health and mental health agencies, hospitals, hospices, home care, nursing homes, day care and senior centers, schools, courts, child welfare and family service agencies, correctional systems, agencies serving immigrants and refugees, substance abuse programs, and employee assistance programs. Thus, social work is a broadly based profession that can meet the needs of individuals and families affected by life-limiting illness and end of life issues.


Social workers are challenged to provide expertise and skill in direct services to clients and their families. At the same time, they have the opportunity to influence a range of professionals, consumers, and laypersons regarding life-limiting illness, care of the dying, and the bereaved. The need for social workers trained and skilled in working with palliative and end of life care situations has increased, because of advancements in medical technology, rising rates of chronic illness, increasing number of elderly people, and longer life spans.(Kaplan,1995)

Palliative and end of life care is a growing area of practice, and social workers may feel unprepared to deal with the complex issues it encompasses (Csikai & Raymer 2003; Christ & Sormanti, 1999). These standards are designed to enhance social workers' awareness of the skills, knowledge, values, methods, and sensitivities needed to work effectively with clients, families, health care providers, and the community when working in end of life situations.End of Life Care refers to multidimensional assessment and interventions provided to assist individuals and their families as they approach end of life. Whether sudden or expected, the end of a person's life is a unique experience that has a great impact on the person, his or her family system, and the family legacy.(National Association of Social Workers,1999)

End of life

End of life decisions encompass a broad range of medical and psychosocial determinations that each individual may make before the end of his or her life. No person has to make decisions; one can delegate, with or without an advance directive, depending on one's capacity to do so. Individuals may address such decisions through advance planning, or in emergencies, when careful consideration is not possible, they may leave the difficult decisions to be made by family members and friends who may be ill prepared to decide what their loved ones might have wanted. Such decisions can include where one plans to spend the final months before death and the degree of self-sufficiency one wishes at that time. The use of personal, family, and societal resources to attain these decisions may change, depending on the course ...
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