5 Key Terms Every Social Worker Should Know About Palliative Care

Palliative Care Terms for Social Workers

  • Culturally Competent Care
  • Care Transition
  • Palliative Care Goals
  • Four Levels of Care
  • Coordination of Care

As the field of social work continues to broaden, it has become particularly important for social workers to know about several key terms associated with palliative care. Palliative care social workers strive to provide essential services to terminally ill patients and their family members. The terms they will need to know are many but the following five terms are among the most commonly-used terms in palliative care.

Culturally Competent Care

One of the most important palliative care terms that social workers should know is culturally competent care. What this means is that social workers specializing in palliative care must have some knowledge pertaining to various cultures, must be able to interact with people of varying cultures, and must be prepared to alter treatment methods according to cultural beliefs and practices. Knowledge of one or two select foreign languages can be beneficial in this area as well.

Care Transition

Another palliative care term that social workers need to know is care transition. This term refers to the care necessary to help palliative patients transition from a medical facility to a home environment or vice versa. It can also apply to transitions from one type of medical facility to another. Any type of transition can be quite stressful for patients and their families, and it is the goal of palliative care social workers to make these transitions less troubling for all involved.

Palliative Care Goals

Social work professionals who specialize in palliative care need to learn what their roles are in terms of providing care to clients. Palliative care goals is the term used to provide this information. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the main goal of palliative care professionals is to help improve the quality of their clients’ lives by helping to reduce stress, manage symptoms, and reduce or relieve pain.

Four Levels of Care

Palliative care is provided on four different levels as defined by the Centers for Medicaid Services: continuous care, routine home care, respite care, and in-patient care. Depending on the overall health and circumstances of particular patients, palliative patients may experience one or more of these levels throughout the duration of their care. Palliative care social workers need to know this term because it refers to the environment and treatment methods necessary for their patients.

Coordination of Care

To ensure the effectiveness and safety of palliative care, all professionals involved in the care of palliative patients must coordinate their efforts. Coordination of care is a term that palliative care social workers should understand. Coordinating efforts can mean many different things depending on each patient’s individual situation but typically encompasses sharing information pertaining to required medications, treatment methods, accountability, and transitions.

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With more and more Baby Boomers coming of age today, the need for palliative care social workers is on the rise. Students who choose this rewarding field will need to know several key terms about palliative care, and the terms described above are among some of the most important.