Forging a Path to Palliative Care | POPS 2023
Despite our best efforts, it continues to be difficult for people to access palliative care across the disease trajectory, as palliative care is often conflated with end-of-life care by US healthcare professionals as well as patients and families. If you are poor, speak a language other than English, identify as a person of color, or are part of a marginalized group, access happens very late in the disease process if at all. For people with cancer, it becomes very complicated as it is rarely suggested when they are receiving "aggressive" treatment. Oncology social workers occupy a critical role in supporting patients and families in the conversations that happen at times suddenly, and at other times, over a period of years that can help lead the way to palliative care. This presentation centers the everyday conversations we have with patients and/or families, especially those that occur in "nodal moments" - times when things are shifting, sometimes in the illness trajectory, but more often in the intimate space of our clinical work. These are not necessarily the formal conversations like "goals of care" meetings, but rather the quiet, sacred times we all experience in this work. The author will talk about those times in her own work - moments that have been humbling and profoundly moving.
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