A Way to Respond: Learn and Share Your Voice

We know there is a lot going on. In just the past twelve weeks, we’ve seen the COVID-19 pandemic blaze through our communities, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths. We’re seeing the related economic downturn affect workers, businesses, housing, food security, and more interrelated systems. We’re sharing the righteous anger from thousands of people across the country as they protest the impunity with which racial, ethnic, and xenophobic hatred and violence has been allowed to flourish. We echo the statement cried out on the streets and emblazoned across social media that Black Lives Matter.

Through it all, hospice and palliative care social workers have faced changing norms and practices head-on. We’ve grappled with determining who is considered an “essential” worker eligible for PPE. We’ve learned how to conduct family meetings in our living rooms and parking garages via videoconferencing and new apps. We’ve figured out how to show a smile behind a mask, how to show concern without being able to hug, and how to record memories and share presence for loved ones who couldn’t be physically present. 

AND we’ve done all of that while also grappling with the social justice issues that, due to hundreds of years building up layers upon layers of structural racism and inequities, are suddenly split open for all to see. Of the COVID deaths, we see the disproportionate impact it has had on Black people, Native Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ+ people, incarcerated people, and other marginalized communities, due directly to historical factors including redlining, unequal access to  to jobs, healthcare, and insurance, and stigma from healthcare providers. In the economic downturn, we see the same factors at play again, affecting those already struggling; and again in the police and judicial systems that overwhelmingly harm communities of color. It has been a lot to take in and process, even more for our social workers who are living it as a reality.

And now it is June, a month for celebrating intersectionality. From Juneteenth to Stonewall, it has historically been a consequential month for seeing change happen. With 27 days left in the month, it is impossible to know what changes we may yet see, but one way to push back against inequities is to learn and share your voice.

Join us on June 19 for the 2nd Virtual SWHPN Summit. Our sessions that day have been curated to focus on addressing inequalities in health care and will provide excellent and timely content to help you learn and grow, as well as opportunities to share your own voice. We’ll be learning specific, actionable ways we can all implement to interrupt racism in end-of-life care. We’ll look at the cultural considerations we need to consider when undertaking advance care planning so that we can engage more effectively with diverse patient populations. And we’ll learn about how to reduce stigma and improve end-of-life care for LGBTQ+ families. We’ve designed it as a day of active learning, and we hope you’ll join us, especially now, so that you’ll be even better equipped to help affect change among your patients and loved ones, and so that you can help add your voice to those of us wanting to change how we work with patients and families with serious illness in this country.

Other opportunities to share your voice include:

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