SWHPN Strategic Engagement Committee Update: Building Connections & Advancing Social Work in HAPC

Beginning this week, SWHPN will begin posting weekly updates from our committees, to highlight the important work each is doing to help advance the organization’s mission. This series is being launched by our Strategic Engagement committee, and the following was written by Jennifer Hirsch, LMSW and PhD candidate.

SWHPN’s strategic engagement committee is focused on building partnerships with external organizations and helping advance the field of hospice and palliative social work through advocacy and collaborations. Some partnerships we have built have resulted in co-facilitated webinars such as A Conversation on Guilt, Trauma and Reactions to Changing Practices During Covid-19 and Suicide Ambivalence Over Time with the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), as well as Racism in Healthcare and Strategies for Equity in Hospice and Palliative Care with the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM). We are also active with the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care (NCHPC), an organization founded to help hospice and palliative care organizations coordinate and collaborate on important issues in the field.

We are using a three-prong strategy to determine how to best focus our efforts. Our framework is that we will lead on a few issues, support some issues, and monitor others.

First, we are focused on leading where our voice and our perspective are unique. SWHPN is partnering with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and Hospice Foundation of America (HFA) around creating and supporting a National Grief Strategy. This plan supports federal legislation to fund and expand grief literacy, services, and resources in communities throughout the United States. This would include a public awareness campaign to increase grief literacy, invest and increase existing services to be delivered more widely, and provide funding for research into Covid-19 related grief.

In areas where we offer our support, we are joining coalitions or support the efforts of other groups. For example, we support efforts to continue coverage for telehealth after the pandemic, including voice-only interactions and the need for increased broadband coverage. This affects all of hospice and palliative care and is an area where the Coalition has advocated. You can see the letter the coalition sent to the Biden Administration and the 117th Congress in February here. We believe in the importance of portability for licensure and are hopeful about the grant that NASW received to study this issue and develop a framework. Additionally, we have joined with the Patient Quality of Life Coalition (PQLC) to help advance the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) for workforce development. We will continue to lend SWHPN’s support to these initiatives.

We are spending time continuing to build connections and learning about what other advocacy efforts agencies are working on to monitor efforts that impact our field and our work as hospice and palliative care social workers. We hope to be a source of information for our members about advocacy efforts underway as well as areas and times that you all can get involved with your state legislatures and representatives at the federal level. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected] to share your ideas: what legislative priorities are important to you? Where do you think SWHPN should help lead and support advocacy efforts?

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