Public health approaches to palliative care : the role of the hospice social worker working with children experiencing bereavement

Paul, Sally (2013) Public health approaches to palliative care : the role of the hospice social worker working with children experiencing bereavement. British Journal of Social Work, 43 (2). pp. 249-263. ISSN 0045-3102

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Abstract

In Western societies, death, dying and palliative care are surrounded by confusion and ignorance, with specialist palliative care only available to the lucky few ( Kellehear, 2007). A public health approach to palliative care has been recognised for the contribution it can make to meaningful end-of-life care. Such approaches have gained increased literature and policy focus and practice examples exist worldwide. In the UK, end-of-life care policy documents have highlighted the significance of a public health approach. They identify action to challenge stigma associated with death and dying to enable positive end-of-life care experiences. This paper discusses contemporary thinking around death and dying and how this relates to public health approaches to palliative care. It outlines the social work role in end-of-life care and discusses the significance of a public health approach drawing on practice experience as a hospice social worker involved in the facilitation of a children's bereavement service. It argues that social work has a significant role in the development of public health approaches to palliative care.