Social workers serve on new IOM panel to examine end-of-life care

May 20, 2013

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

Four social workers are among the members of a newly formed Institute of Medicine committee that will examine the state of end-of-life care in the U.S.

The Committee on Transforming End-of-Life Care is charged with developing a consensus study and technical report on the current state of end-of-life care.

The IOM activity report for the committee states that “the time is ripe for a new examination of how individual values and preferences can be aligned while assuring compassionate care focused on the needs of individuals approaching death in an affordable and sustainable manner.”

The committee met for the first time on Feb. 20 and 21 in Washington, D.C., and reviewed the previous IOM reports on end-of-life care, 2003’s “When Children Die: Improving Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Children and their Families”; and 1997’s “Approaching Death: Improving Care at the End of Life.”

During the public portion of the inaugural meeting, Dr. Judith Salerno, executive officer at the IOM, said it is the institute’s belief that end-of-life care is a topic that should not be polarized.

“It’s an issue in which we will all share the experience — as individuals, as caregivers, as clinicians,” she said. “This is a time in our debate about health reform and where we are in the health system where we can make a real difference and transform the experience.”

The four social workers selected to serve on the IOM committee also made public statements at the Feb. 20 meeting, including Fernando Torres-Gil, a professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging.

“It’s good to know we are starting to address a very important topic, pending the aging and actuarial inevitability of 75 million-plus baby boomers,” he said. “This will be an important topic.”

Another social worker serving on the committee, Judith R. Peres, is an expert consultant in the areas of long-term care and palliative end-of-life care at Altarum Institute’s Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness.

“I have decades of research that I have done in Medicaid and Medicare policy,” Peres said. “As a social worker, I am concerned about the psychosocial aspects of care near the end of life. I have an expertise at the nexus of long-term care and palliative care.”

From the May 2013 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story after logging in here.