Background: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients fear being open about their identities, not receiving equal or safe treatment, and having their family and surrogates disrespected or ignored by providers.
Objective: To examine inadequate, disrespectful, and abusive care to patients and family due to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Design: A cross-sectional study using an online survey.
Setting/Subjects: Home and residential hospice, inpatient palliative care service, and other inpatient and outpatient settings. Subjects were 865 hospice and palliative care providers, including physicians, social workers, nurses, and chaplains.
Measurements: Inadequate, disrespectful, or abusive care to LGBT patients and discriminatory treatment of family and surrogates were measured.
Results: Among respondents, 53.6% thought that lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) patients were more likely than non-LGB patients to experience discrimination at their institution; 23.7% observed discriminatory care; 64.3% reported that transgender patients were more likely than nontransgender patients to experience discrimination; 21.3% observed discrimination to transgender patients; 15% observed the spouse/partner of LGBT patients having their treatment decisions disregarded or minimized; and 14.3% observed the spouse/partner or surrogate being treated disrespectfully.
Conclusions: These findings provide strong evidence that LGBT patients and their families are more likely to receive discriminatory care as compared with those who are not LGBT. Disrespectful care can negatively impact the trust patients have in providers and institutions, and lead to delaying or avoiding care, or not disclosing relevant information. Partners/spouses and surrogates may be treated disrespectfully, have their treatment decisions ignored or minimized, be denied or have limited access to the patient, and be denied private time. Advocacy and staff training should address barriers to delivering respectful and nondiscriminatory care.
BACKGROUND: Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are often called upon to assess swallowing function for older adults with advanced dementia at high risk of aspiration and make recommendations about whether the patient can safely continue oral nutrition.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the circumstances under which SLPs recommend oral nutritional intake for these patients.
METHODS: A mail survey of a national probability sample of SLPs (n = 731). Speech-language pathologists were asked if there were circumstances in which they would recommend oral feeding for patients with advanced dementia at high risk of aspiration, and if yes, to describe the circumstances under which they do so.
RESULTS: Six themes emerged: (1) when patient preferences are known; (2) for quality of life near end of life; (3) if aspiration risk mitigation strategies are employed; (4) if physician's preference; (5) if aspiration risk is clearly documented and acknowledged; and (6) if SLP is knowledgeable about current evidence of lack of benefit of feeding tubes in advanced dementia or that nothing by mouth status will not necessarily prevent aspiration pneumonia.
CONCLUSIONS: Speech-language pathologists have an important role within the interprofessional team in assessing swallowing in patients with advanced dementia, advising family and hospital staff about risks and benefits of oral feeding, and the safest techniques for doing so, to maximize quality of life for these patients near the end of life. Speech-language pathologists are often faced with balancing concerns about aspiration risk and recommending the more palliative approach of oral feeding for pleasure and comfort, potentially creating moral distress for the SLP.
OBJECTIVE: Palliative social workers have taken steps to increase the numbers of social workers trained and competent to deliver effective psychosocial palliative care. Despite these developments, masters of social work (MSW) programs have only begun to develop curricula preparing students for entry-level practice. This study sought to determine the type and extent of content areas included in MSW courses dedicated to palliative care or with content related to palliative care practice.
METHOD: A cross-sectional study using an online questionnaire was conducted. All 248 accredited MSW programs in the United States and 32 programs in Canada were invited to participate. Participants were asked to name the courses in their MSW program that were dedicated to, or included content on, palliative care, and submit the syllabi for these courses. Data comprised course content for each class session and required readings. A grounded theory approach was used to identify the topics covered. Result: Of the 105 participating programs that responded to the survey, 42 submitted 70 syllabi for courses with at least some palliative care content. There were 29 topics identified. The most common topic was grief, loss, and bereavement, followed closely by behavioral and mental health issues, and supporting family and friends; cultural perspectives and advance care planning were also common topics. For the 10 syllabi from courses dedicated to palliative care, supporting family was the most common topical area, followed closely by interprofessional practice and advance care planning.Significance of results: Although there are many challenges to introducing palliative care content into MSW programs, including unqualified faculty and competing course material and electives of equally compelling content, there are model curricula for dedicated palliative care courses. With the large growth of palliative care programs, the time is ripe to add specialty palliative care courses and to add palliative care content into existing courses.
Objective: There is a shortage of social workers who have palliative care expertise. The aging U.S. population and advances in extending life for seriously ill persons require social workers in a wide range of health care and other settings with specialized palliative care expertise, as well as those with basic competence in palliative care. The objective of the present study was to document course content on palliative care in MSW programs in the United States and Canada.
METHOD: A cross-sectional design with an online questionnaire was used. All 248 accredited MSW programs in the United States and 32 programs in Canada were invited to participate. The measures included the characteristics of the courses on palliative care.
RESULTS: Of the 105 participating programs, only 10 had courses dedicated to palliative care, 9 of which were part of a specialization/certificate program. Few programs had plans to develop a dedicated course. There were 106 courses in 63 MSW programs with some content on palliative care. The majority of these had <25%, and few had at least 50%, of palliative care content.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Curricula are needed for preparing MSW graduates for specialty hospice and palliative care practice and non-specialty practice. While there are practice competencies for specialty practitioners, consensus on a core curriculum for all MSW students would be beneficial. Consensus on basic palliative care knowledge and skills for non-specialty social workers in health care and other settings and subsequent curriculum development are also needed. Innovative ways in which to introduce basic and more specialized content on palliative care into the already-crowded MSW curricula will be needed.
CONTEXT: Care provided to seriously ill patients by front-line social workers is a component of generalist-level palliative care. The core competencies for high-quality generalist-level palliative social work are necessary to promote training curricula and best practices but have not yet been defined in the U.S.
OBJECTIVE: To develop consensus-derived core competencies for generalist-level palliative social work.
METHODS: Fifty-five proposed social work competencies were categorized by the eight domains of palliative care identified by the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. The competencies were rated by 41 regionally dispersed, Master's level social workers selected through purposive and snowball sampling using a Delphi method. Each was rated as essential for generalist-level palliative social work, acceptable with modifications, or rejected based on the judgment that it was not essential for generalist-level palliative social work or was outside the scope of practice. Consensus was defined as >70% agreement to accept or reject a competency. Three review rounds were needed to achieve consensus on all competencies.
RESULTS: Two competencies were added to the original list. Of the 55 proposed competencies, 41 were accepted (19 after modification) and 16 were rejected. Competencies in the social, spiritual, cultural, and ethical/legal aspects of care domains were relatively more likely to be accepted as compared with those in structure and processes of care, physical care, psychological care, and care of patient at the end of life.
CONCLUSIONS: The 41 consensus-derived competencies for generalist-level palliative social work may inform the development of training curricula and standards for high-quality care.
To address job satisfaction, and therefore employment retention, of hospice social workers, this study examined how relationships with other members of the interdisciplinary hospice team and perceptions of hospice leadership may be associated with job satisfaction of hospice social workers. The sample of 203 hospice social workers was recruited by e-mailing invitations to hospice social workers identified by hospice directors in three states, use of online social media sites accessed by hospice social workers, and snowball sampling. Study measures included professional experience, hospice characteristics, interdisciplinary collaboration, perception of servant leadership, and intrinsic and extrinsic job satisfaction. Variables significant in the model for intrinsic satisfaction were perception of servant leadership, interdisciplinary collaboration, and feeling valued by the hospice physician. Variables significant in the model for extrinsic satisfaction were perception of servant leadership, interdisciplinary collaboration, feeling valued by the hospice physician, and number of social workers at the hospice. Interdisciplinary collaboration was more important for intrinsic job satisfaction and leadership style was more important for extrinsic job satisfaction. Profit status of the hospice, experience of the social worker, caseload size, and other variables were not significant in either model. These results support previous findings that leadership style of the hospice director and relationships with hospice colleagues are important for hospice social workers' job satisfaction. Such low-cost modifications to the hospice work environment, albeit not simple, may improve job satisfaction of hospice social workers.