Social Work in Palliative Care
Social workers are integral members of the interdisciplinary palliative care team (IDT), addressing psychological and social needs to support patients living with serious illness, and their families. Because of their specialized training, social workers play a critical role on the team—communicating with patients and families.
This toolkit provides online courses and tools to help social workers meet the needs of patients and families, and to help palliative care programs use best practices to integrate social work into the work of the IDT.
What’s in the Toolkit
CAPC courses and learning pathways for social workers, including CAPC Designation status.
Find CAPC-curated courses and tools based on your practice area, discipline, or area of interest. CAPC courses provide free continuing education credits for all staff at member organizations, and ABIM MOC credits for physicians.
Recommended CAPC courses for long-term care social workers. Center to Advance Palliative Care, 2019.
Online training curriculum for all specialties and disciplines to strengthen their care of patients living with serious illness. Free continuing education credits for all, and physicians receive ABIM MOC credits for select courses.
Palliative Care Resources for Social Workers
Recommended tools for palliative care social workers.
Definition of palliative care and how it improves quality of life for patients living with a serious illness, and their families.
Overview for organization leaders and other key decisionmakers about how specialty palliative care social work enhances the value of care for people living with serious illness.
Recommendations to policymakers and specialty palliative care social work champions to improve access.
Steps that specialty palliative care social workers can take to further improve the value case through messaging, data collection, and research.
The National Consensus Project (NCP) Clinical Practice Guidelines are the national standard for high quality palliative care. National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care, 2018.
Phrases to use when talking to members/patients and their families about prognosis, advance care planning, and quality of life.
A place to ask questions and learn from fellow social workers (and includes an archive when you register)
A slide deck detailing the opportunities and considerations for palliative care teams billing for social work services. Courtesy of Brandi Rutan, LCSW, LISW-CP, Four Seasons Clinical Social Worker and Tranquil Counseling & Consulting, LLC and Christine Lau, RN, LCSW, APHSW-C, Sr. Director of Serious Illness Care Management for Teleios and VP of Operations for UNC Community Palliative Care
Template notes for documenting patient care.
Shared by Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro.
Shared by Central Baptist Hospital.
Shared by Hospital of University of Pennsylvania.
Effective Interdisciplinary Teamwork
Strategies for creating a healthy, high-functioning interdisciplinary palliative care team.
Summary of the tips on integrating the Social Worker role, from CAPC's interactive workshop in April 2023.
Hire and onboard your staff, manage program operations, and ensure a healthy high-functioning team using this toolkit.
Monograph on processes that promote team health. Center to Advance Palliative Care, 2014.
Best practices in efficient, effective IDT meetings.
Watch this CAPC on-demand webinar, Improving Team Effectiveness: An Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) Panel Discussion.
Skill-building resources for palliative care social workers.
Certification in hospice and palliative care is available through the National Association of Social Workers for a bachelor's or master's level social worker.
The APHSW-C certification recognizes bachelor’s and master’s level social workers with experience, specialized skills, and competency in hospice and palliative social work. The APHSW-C assures the public that certified practitioners have the knowledge and skills to provide safe, high-quality care at an advanced level. Individuals eligible for certification include experienced hospice and palliative care social workers that practice in clinical and academic settings in the United States and Canada.
The mission of the Board of Oncology Social Work Certification is to promote excellence in psychosocial care for oncology patients, families, caregivers, and their community through the process of Oncology Social Work Certification.
Palliative care social work leadership and professional development.
Resources for palliative care social workers.
Educating Social Workers in Palliative and End-of-Life Care (ESPEC) is an innovative training program designed for health social workers by social workers to promote the integration of primary palliative care skills into clinical practice.
Social Work Job Descriptions
A catalog of palliative care position descriptions that can be modified for use with new hires.
Shared by Meridian Health.
Shared by Meridian Health.
Shared by Sutter Health-Advanced Illness Management (AIM).
Shared by OACIS/Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Pediatric Palliative Care
Resources for pediatric palliative care social workers.
In this Virtual Office Hour, ask questions related to strategic planning, program development, communication techniques, and managing operations for the pediatric palliative care program.
Guidance on program design and program operations for the pediatric palliative care program.
Empowering parents and families of children living with serious illness.
Advice from National Leaders
Connect with peers and field experts on CAPC’s faculty: just-in-time problem solving, shared advice, new ideas, and peer mentoring.
Ask questions about the role of the social worker on the palliative care team, including distinguishing the role from other disciplines on the team and navigating competing demands on palliative care social workers from the social work department.
Part of the Improving Team Effectiveness series, this session covers building and sustaining a stable, effective interdisciplinary team. Ask questions on topics such as hiring and onboarding, role clarity, team communication, and preventing burnout.
Small-group consulting calls with national subject matter experts.
CAPC Master Clinician case reviews of complex patient cases cover topics such as pain management, family dynamics, service partnerships, disease-specific care, spiritual care, and more.
Jaime Goldberg, MSW, LCSW
PhD student, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work
Jill Farabelli, MSW, LCSW, APHSW-C (she/her/hers)
Palliative Care Social Worker
Hospital of University of Pennsylvania
Philip Higgins, PhD, LICSW
Danielle Faye Jonas, MSW, LCSW
Silver School of Social Work
New York University
Nadine Marshall, LMSW, MSc