Written by Jonathan Pearce, Family Support Team, Hospice of the Valleys – November 2019
On Tuesday 23rd July 2019, armed with a bottle of water and a bag of mints, I began my journey to the University of York. My abstract to present at the 9th International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health had been accepted. The 5-hour journey, aided by a couple of rest stops, was certainly helped by the air conditioning; the weather outside being scorchio.
My presentation title was, ‘Palliative care social work in Blaenau Gwent- What’s going well, and what lies ahead?’
I was hoping to highlight the work of the Family Support Team that I am proud to be a part of, and demonstrate the breadth of inequality and the pressing needs of the community that we serve.
Due to the anticipation of an international audience,(there were about 15 different nationalities in the room), I began with a visual description of Wales, where we are, and what we are famous for (i.e. Dragons, mountains and sheep). The introduction, and its rather muted response, made me reflect quite quickly that humour differs greatly around the world.
The presentation content demonstrated the range of expertise, knowledge and skill that our team offer, including help with financial issues, emotional support, planning, carer and bereavement support. This was achieved with a combination of statistics and stories. There is nothing as powerful and impacting as a story. It was nice to have some positive feedback, particularly from some wonderful social work, colleagues from Hong Kong, and BASW Cymric have arranged an interview following my recent and relatively new tweeting activity.
I also enjoyed a number of other presentations focussing on health inequalities, bereavement, and hospice care from around the globe.
I have been a palliative care social worker for 11 years now. No 2 days are ever the same, but this one less typical than most. It was a pleasure to present, representing a team, service and organisation that I am very proud of being a part of.