The social worker

The social worker


Social workers in palliative care work collaboratively with members of the multi-disciplinary team, supporting patients and their families as they adjust to the news of a life-limiting or terminal diagnosis. The diagnosis of a life-limiting illness brings about strong and powerful emotions, raising issues of transition, adaptation and loss.

The social worker on the palliative care team works directly with patients and their families around a wide variety of issues. Their role will vary depending on the issues, intensity of need and patients’ or families’ openness to support. Patients access social work support at different times as illness progresses, visiting and revisiting issues (Figure 42.1).

The role of the social worker includes supporting other professionals within the multi-disciplinary team by promoting psychosocial care in their supportive relationships with patients and families. The social worker will also act as a resource for the team to help them identify patients and families who may be vulnerable and require specialist input (APCSW, 2014).

Counselling support

The social worker helps patients and family members to express their thoughts and feelings relating to illness. Patient’s and family’s mental health and coping mechanisms are challenged by the changes, losses and uncertainty of illness. The social worker provides support to enhance their abilities to adjust and adapt. This can include exploring issues of a private and sensitive nature. Some new issues will arise and others are refocused in the light of a terminal diagnosis, for example, past losses, regrets, family secrets and complex relationships. Social workers also offer support and guidance to colleagues in managing these complex situations.

Aug 29, 2017 | Posted by in NURSING | Comments Off on The social worker
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