SWHPN promotes advancement of knowledge and best practices for hospice and palliative care social workers to ensure access to expert social work services for all patients and families facing serious illness.


SWHPN is a membership association that:

  • Amplifies the role of hospice and palliative care social workers, to provide the best psychosocial care possible to people facing serious and terminal illnesses and their families, friends, and loved ones
  • Advances professional development through education, evidence-informed best practice, social work-informed research, and specialty certification
  • Advocates for improved policies, increased funding, and additional opportunities for social workers in hospice and palliative care, to promote delivery of high-quality care in all care settings


SWHPN grew out of the 2002 Social Work Leadership Development Awards Program. Sponsored by the Open Society Foundation’s Project on Death in America (PDIA), a project of the Soros Foundation, this program of 42 social work leaders was led by Dr. Grace Christ to create the first Social Work Summit on End-of-Life and Palliative Care. The summit created a priority map for furthering the field. In 2005, the second Social Work Summit was held, and its members developed a steering committee, a monograph report, and other concrete next steps toward advancing best practices in the field. Just two years later, in 2007, SWHPN was officially established, opened to members, established a board of directors and elected officers, and in 2008 hosted its first general assembly. 

Since 2008, the SWHPN General Assembly has convened annually.  From across the country, members gather to network and learn, as well as explore new ideas and advance social work policy at the local and national levels. 

SWHPN is also a member of the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care 


SWHPN has grown to welcome hundreds of interdisciplinary palliative and hospice social work and care professionals from across the country and the world into its member network of caregivers, practitioners, policy makers and educators aligning to further the field of care and champion advancements in best practices, research, funding and policy. 

Interested in membership? Professional and student memberships are available. Join today!