The National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care expresses our grief over the senseless killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers and many others who have lost their lives simply because of the color of their skin. We join with our Members, and many others around the nation, in demanding justice and systematic and structural change. “Justice for all” are empty words until all of us take specific antiracist action, so that we can address the racism that is embedded deeply in all sectors and at all levels of society. Until we do this our country simply cannot achieve the values of an equal right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to which we aspire as a country.
A basic tenet of hospice and palliative care is that each and every human life has intrinsic meaning and value and that every person living with serious illness is seen as an individual with a unique history, goals, aspirations, preferences, values and beliefs. And that uniqueness should not just be acknowledged but explored and respected as the context and the basis for our care plan.
Within our spheres of work in hospice and palliative care, we must ask ourselves and our organizations:
What more can health care workers, leaders and our organizations do to act on and implement these values?
- Are there people of color who need hospice and palliative care that are not receiving appropriate access, treatment and care due to implicit or explicit racial bias and systemic health inequities?
- Are there people of color who have not had the opportunity to be hired to be hospice and palliative care providers or within our organizations due to implicit or unconscious racial bias?
- Our National Consensus Project Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care call for the interdisciplinary team to “commit to continuously practicing cultural humility and celebrating diversity” ….but what does it actually mean in our day-to-day work?
Moving forward, our Coalition is committed to working with others and acknowledging our responsibility to develop a clear and actionable plan to dismantling structural racism in the fields of hospice and palliative care, including within our own workplaces.
- We can listen to antiracism experts and work to train ourselves and our colleagues on the realities of implicit (unconscious) bias and how to combat it.
- We can recognize that racism and bias routinely leads to unequal and differential treatment of patients by race, gender, age, and language and that there are very real and negative consequences of such bias.
- We can recognize that centuries of explicit and structural racism and the resulting widespread implicit bias have resulted in profound loss of trust in us as health care workers.
- We can and must do more to pursue legislative and regulatory policies that correct disparities and inequities in our healthcare system.
American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM)
Association of Professional Chaplains (APC)
Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC)
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN)
Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA)
National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC)
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)
National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC)
Palliative Care Quality Collaborative (PCQC)
Physician Assistants in Hospice and Palliative Medicine (PAPHM)
Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network (SWHPN)
Society of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacists (SPPCP)
Supportive Care Coalition (SCC)
National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition. Richmond, VA:2018. https://www.nationalcoalitionhpc.org/ncp
.; Domain 6, Cultural Aspects of Care