Date of Paper

5-2017

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Rajean Moone

Department/School

Master of Social Work

Abstract

Alternative end of life care options aim to serve people in their home to provide person-centered support at the end of life, but there is a dearth of research on the impacts of these emerging practices. The author of this study reviewed current literature regarding various alternative end of life options and interviewed eight alternative end of life practitioners from around the United States of America. Emerging practice include death doulas, death midwifes, end of life guides, home funeral guides and green burial. Hospice and palliative care are recognized as current practices and current published literature examining what best serves people at the end of their life, as well as their caregivers, illuminates gaps in access to services that allow healing relationships with professionals at the end of life. This impacts the experience of dying and grieving. Historical perspectives and parallels on American death care highlighted. A qualitative Phenomenological Analysis approach was used to hone in on four themes that emerged from the interviews, including: practicing person-centered education and support, recognizing interconnectedness and the value of transition, impacts on dying person, caregivers and the living and empowering people to reclaim what was. Implications for social work include professional ethical duty to understand the range of options for end of life care and advocating for policy that supports people’s access to these options. Future research is needed to explore the impact of alternative end of life options from the perspectives of the people utilizing these options.

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Social Work Commons

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