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A Way to Respond: Learn and Share Your Voice

We know there is a lot going on. In just the past twelve weeks, we’ve seen the COVID-19 pandemic blaze through our communities, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths. We’re seeing the related economic downturn affect workers, businesses, housing, food security, and more interrelated systems. We’re sharing the righteous anger from thousands of people across the country as they protest the impunity with which racial, ethnic, and xenophobic hatred and violence has been allowed to flourish. We echo the statement cried out on the streets and emblazoned across social media that Black Lives Matter.

Through it all, hospice and palliative care social workers have faced changing norms and practices head-on. We’ve grappled with determining who is considered an “essential” worker eligible for PPE. We’ve learned how to conduct family meetings in our living rooms and parking garages via videoconferencing and new apps. We’ve figured out how to show a smile behind a mask, how to show concern without being able to hug, and how to record memories and share presence for loved ones who couldn’t be physically present. 

AND we’ve done all of that while also grappling with the social justice issues that, due to hundreds of years building up layers upon layers of structural racism and inequities, are suddenly split open for all to see. Of the COVID deaths, we see the disproportionate impact it has had on Black people, Native Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ+ people, incarcerated people, and other marginalized communities, due directly to historical factors including redlining, unequal access to  to jobs, healthcare, and insurance, and stigma from healthcare providers. In the economic downturn, we see the same factors at play again, affecting those already struggling; and again in the police and judicial systems that overwhelmingly harm communities of color. It has been a lot to take in and process, even more for our social workers who are living it as a reality.

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It Starts With Us: SWHPN Statement on Racism and Structural Inequities in Hospice and Palliative Social Work

The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) wholeheartedly rejects the killings of black and brown people by police. As social workers helping ease suffering at end-of-life, we cannot let racism and disparities in care go unchecked. We are here to support a more just, equitable system for all.

Our organization is comprised of nearly 1,000 hospice and palliative care social workers throughout the country. Our core work focuses on providing professional development, amplifying evidence-informed best practices, and advocating for improved policies and increased funding, so that all patients and families experiencing serious illness receive expert psychosocial care which alleviates their suffering, improves their quality of life, and facilitates their dying in accordance with their wishes.

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Update on Social Work Open Discussions

Over the past month, our weeknight Social Work Open Discussions have been attended by social workers and psychosocial professionals from over thirty states and four countries! Thanks to all who participate and make these meetings the dynamic discussions they are during this critical time.

We are updating our schedule over the coming weeks to consolidate these meetings, as well as provide some discussion around specific topics. As always, these remain informal gatherings and safe places for clinicians and colleagues to share feelings and fears in an effort to find renewal, support, and social connection.

Beginning Tuesday, May 5th, please join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:00 pm EST. You can register to participate here. Come as little or as often you need.

See the updated schedule:

  • Thursday, April 30th: Topic: Grief and Trauma with special guest April Naturale. Looking to the future, there will likely be some level of grief and trauma for our colleagues and a large portion of the world that exists for a long time. What are we going to do about that as a field and as individuals?
  • Tuesday, May 5th: Open Discussion
  • Thursday, May 7th: Topic: New Normal. What does the "new normal" for hospice and palliative social work look like, and what can we do to ensure that our field is equipped to support patients, families, and colleagues? What are you hoping for, what are you worried about?
  • Tuesday, May 12th: Open Discussion
  • Thursday, May 14th: Topic: Transitions. How has your role changed since COVID-19? If you're working from home or have changed locations, what support do you need? How are you adapting? What things will remain post-COVID? 

You can find our most updated list of events and Social Work Open Discussion topics on the SWHPN Events Calendar.





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SWHPN Announces New Leadership

Though our field is facing unprecedented challenges, we are pleased to announce several exciting leadership changes taking place the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) to lead our members through these uncertain times.

SWHPN appointed Jessica Strong as permanent Executive Director, after serving in the role of interim Executive Director for the past year. This appointment followed an organizational search and board voting process. In addition to leading the outstanding team of professionals who have implemented SWHPN’s annual General Assemblies over the past five years, Jessica led SWHPN’s most recent strategic planning process that initiated the formalization of SWHPN’s current organizational structure. The goals set in that process have helped to provide extraordinary growth of SWHPN this year and have set the course for a bright future. One of her first initiatives was successfully securing a two-year grant from the Cambia Health Foundation to provide educational webinars to support the professional development needs of hospice and palliative care social workers. We are grateful to the Cambia Health Foundation for their continued support which will support these new initiatives.

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