Background Increasing workload of palliative care social worker recognised. Employed by hospice but funding for post shared by hospice, local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group with responsibility to attend meetings, training and supervision away from hospice base.
Aims In order to facilitate a timely discharge to preferred place of care, we need to be able to respond and meet the demands of the complex and challenging needs of patients and improve the accessibility of social work advice to patients and their families in a timely manner.
Methods Empower existing staff in a developmental role by recognising ambition, skills and knowledge in a current staff member, whilst acknowledging limitations of this and respecting specialist social worker role. Shadowing of palliative care social worker on ward rounds, outpatient clinic and day services; communication skills training undertaken. Developing existing knowledge for application of Continuing Healthcare Funding and placements with further training planned for benefits and welfare advice. Work closely with social work administration support.
Results Access to social work advice from health professional at time suitable to patient and family means no waiting. Discussions and administration around discharge planning can be commenced in a timely way and followed up with specialist input from social worker. Better use of health professional skills; palliative care social worker can undertake joint discharge planning visits with appropriate members of team allowing patient to tell their story only once, more timely discharge. It releases time to care for RGNs who have social work support team available as resource.
Conclusion By empowering experienced staff member who has a sound knowledge base of palliative care and the introduction of new skills and training, patients have services readily accessible to them. The specialist palliative care social worker is now able to concentrate on complex issues whilst being supported from a more knowledgeable team than before.
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