A new resource for social workers The role of social work in palliative, end of life and bereavement care was launched in March 2016, aimed at ensuring that people benefit from good social work at the end of their life, and that those close to them are supported during this time and into bereavement.
It was hoped the resource will also be used by palliative care social workers to raise awareness of their role and that other social workers will use the resource to review their practice, and to identify the support they need to develop their knowledge and skills.
The Douglas Macmillan Hospice and Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust who both employ social workers have been working together to support social work practice and raise awareness of the resource.
Since 2014 the Douglas Macmillan Hospice social work team have been working on achieving specific goals from the Framework for Social Care at End of Life in their locality.
They have focused on improving collaborative working with colleagues in adult social care services and developing training and educational opportunities. This year following an initial meeting between the Hospice Education Department and the Workforce Development Lead at Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust. A three day teaching programme was developed and delivered by the hospices education department lecturing staff and social work team manager for social care colleagues who showed an interest in palliative care.
Further collaboration followed on from this to support the national launch and publication of the resource ‘The Role of the Social Worker in Palliative, End of Life and Bereavement Care’, an event was organised to promote it further in the local region.
This has involved the palliative care social workers from four regional hospices engaging with a Social Work Teaching Partnership and the staff from its partnership agencies. The aims of the event were to look at how people can get the most out of social work and how stronger links can be developed to support the delivery of high quality end of life care.
Kevin Chesters Social Work Team Manager at the Douglas Macmillan Hospice said of the event:
‘I hope the event has led to our colleagues in social care having a better understanding of palliative care social work and to recognise the important role they have in supporting people at the end of life and those close to them.
In the UK we are a long way from people having equitable access to support from a palliative care social worker. We hope that this resource will help to strengthen the specialism of Palliative Care Social Work and help us and others extol the benefits of this support to people at end of life to employers and commissioners of services in the hope that this will lead to greater equity of access.
The resource is going to be really helpful to us not only in terms of helping other people to understand more about palliative care social work but also as a reflective and developmental tool for our own practice. The resource groups the capabilities for palliative care social workers in to the nine domains of the PCF and we have incorporated these into our social work supervision and appraisals. We hope the social workers we spoke to will be able to use the resource in a similar way.
I think the event has been a real success and feedback has really positive. Some of the key themes of the workshop were the need for training and educational opportunities and forming communities of interest such as end of life care champions networks. The participants valued the insights into social work in palliative care and the opportunity to meet and talk with other social workers but most of all from hearing Dr Julie Gosling, a member of the working group who created the resource, talk about the contribution to the resource of people with lived experience of approaching death, those who cared for them and those bereaved. Julie communicated the wisdom of those people with warmth and humour which attendees found insightful and thought provoking in relation to their practice.
The event has been another progressive step in working with our colleagues in partner agencies in practice and education to help achieve the goal of delivering high quality end of life care.