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Apr 10, 2024

In this episode, Dr. JYP talks with licensed clinical social worker Stephanie Broussard about the importance of patients sharing their wishes regarding palliative and end-of-life care. Broussard stresses the need to include a social worker as part of the cancer care team from the point of diagnosis to address emotional distress. She explains that palliative care, which focuses on relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, is different from hospice care, which is a Medicare benefit and service for those with a terminal diagnosis.

Broussard shares why it's vital for everyone, even young adults, to have a plan for the person who will make medical decisions on their behalf. She stresses the importance of having conversations about what matters most to us in our care, especially when we are faced with a serious illness. Dr. JYP shares her own wishes to encourage listeners to think and talk about their end-of-life care goals and intentions. They conclude the episode with the agreement that advance care planning is “an act of love.”

3 Episode Key Takeaways

1. The Crucial Role of Advanced Care Planning:

Stephanie Broussard underscores the importance of advanced care planning as a necessary step to empower both patients and their families in making informed decisions regarding end-of-life care. This is an ongoing conversation that centers around identifying personal goals, values, and priorities, ensuring that one's wishes are respected and that these discussions are recognized as acts of love that unite families during challenging times.

2. Distinguishing Palliative Care and Hospice:

Broussard clarifies that while hospice care is a form of palliative care designed for individuals with a terminal prognosis of six months or less, palliative care in itself is broader and can benefit anyone with a serious illness, regardless of their stage of disease or age. The conversation with Dr. Jennifer Young Pierce delves into how palliative care encompasses the management of emotional, physical, and spiritual distress, aiming not just to alleviate symptoms but to improve overall quality of life for patients and their families.

3. The Role of Social Workers and the Need for Comprehensive Palliative Care:

The episode explores the specialized role and training required for social workers within the domain of palliative care, with an emphasis on the necessity for a more comprehensive palliative care intervention. There's a discussion about how reactive versus proactive integration of social work can affect outcomes, advocating for a holistic approach where every team member, including social workers, is involved from the beginning to manage symptoms, provide support to caregivers, and address psychosocial needs.

Show Overview

01:21 Palliative care explained
04:12 Social worker Stephanie Broussard addresses emotional suffering in patients.
11:34 Different roles for social workers involved in palliative care
15:13 Hospice focuses on a person’s quality of life.
20:18 Advance care planning is an ongoing process.
21:16 Importance of advance directives and conversations with family
25:21 Discussing end-of-life care and medical power of attorney
28:45 Broussard shares insights on palliative care and planning