Dimensions of the role of the social worker in palliative care

Sheldon, F.M.
November 2000
Palliative Medicine;Nov2000, Vol. 14 Issue 6, p491
Academic Journal
Abstract: There has been very little research focusing on the role of the social worker in a specialist palliative care service. A qualitative research methodology was used which sought to capture the essence of that role, as perceived by those carrying it out, rather than simply to approach it as a series of tasks. A specialist palliative care social worker was asked to describe her role in selected cases that she had worked with. The interviews were taped and transcribed. The data were then analysed for themes using the techniques of constant comparative analysis. The themes were grouped into six categories and a conceptual framework developed. This was then validated with four other experienced social workers. Integrating categories in the framework were knowing and working with limits and values and valuing. The four other categories, a family focus, being a team member, managing the environment and managing anxiety related to the everyday activities of the social worker. The results are discussed in relation to social work in other specialties and in relation to other professional roles in specialist palliative care. Further research is needed to add the perspective of the social worker’s client to understanding of the role.


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