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Blog

One of our aims is to promote the lively exchange of news, views and experiences amongst our members.

Below are a selection of blogs written by our members along with some of the latest postings from others across the palliative care and wider social work field.

If you’d like to submit a blog post then please send it through to secretary@apcsw.org.uk

 
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World Social Work Day and Boot Out Austerity

Written by Kevin Chesters, Douglas Macmillan Hospice, Midlands Representative, APCSW

I first came across the celebration of World Social Work Day (WSWD) last year but hadn’t done anything to mark the event then. This year though at a local authority third sector consultation event I ran into a friend and colleague Bridgett Bennett who I used to work with. She was organising an event to celebrate the day and asked if I would like to be involved. I said I yes and that I would host a stand at the event to showcase palliative care social work and the work the social work team at our hospice does. I also agreed to get in touch with the social workers in our local children’s hospice to get the perspective of palliative care social work with adults and children. I thought that as well as celebrating the event and catching up with some old social work friends it would be another good opportunity to keep on track with our aims I spoke about in my first APCSW blog which was to keep helpful relations with social work colleagues in statutory services.

The day totally surpassed my expectations. There was really good representation from across the whole spectrum of social work practice in the local authority. One stand included information about the worldwide perspective of social work practice. This was presented in a really interesting way and there was a quiz about the differences and things influencing social workers practice in other countries that to be honest had me scratching my head and asking for the answers, all good fun though. The event opened up to the community in the afternoon and members of the public came into view the stands and talk to social workers and other people working in the health and social care sector. The theme of the importance of valuing community and environmental sensitivity were woven throughout. This was really highlighted by a performance group called Masque whose performers have learning disabilities. They delivered a performance of dance and song which spoke about the importance of communities being inclusive and accepting of each other.

When thinking about the stand to showcase palliative care social work I was…

…TO READ MORE CLICK BELOW

WSWD and Boot It Out Blog – Kevin Chesters

 
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Special Days

Written by Wendy Ashton, Eden Valley Hospice

Every day special memories are created at the hospice. From providing people with time to spend with family and friends to helping children access Jigsaw for support and fun, each special memory will stay with the family forever.

As Palliative care social workers here we co ordinate and organise these with the team. Here are some memories we have helped to create at Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw.

Parties and Occasions

We recognise that a stay at the hospice may mean patients and their families miss out on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas etc. Here at Eden Valley Hospice we try to help the patients and the families and friends still celebrate.

In November we held a small firework display in the grounds and a family party with gingerbread and sparkles. All the rooms on the in-patient unit look out onto the garden and chairs or beds were pushed to the doors so everyone could enjoy the firework display.

At Christmas patients find it difficult to go shopping for presents. The hospice is very lucky to have a fantastic community and gifts are donated throughout the festive season. We were able to hand out some adorable cuddly bears along with selection boxes to patients and their families.

One patient told me it was nice to give the grandchildren a gift from him and not one his children had to buy for him to give.

Another patient said her child sought comfort from cuddling up the bear in bed with her.

Special Visitors

We love to welcome all visitors to the hospice, and also make someone’s special day by a visit.

I link with the Marketing and fundraising team a lot as they have links and contacts for all sorts of events and themes.Every day special memories are created at the hospice. From providing people with time to spend with family and friends to helping children access Jigsaw for support and fun, each special memory will stay with the family forever.

As Palliative care social workers here we co ordinate and organise these with the team. Here are some memories we have helped to create at Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw.

Parties and Occasions

We recognise that a stay at the hospice may mean patients and their families miss out on special occasions such as ….

….TO READ MORE CLICK BELOW

Special Days Blog – Wendy Ashton

 
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Pat’s perspective on Palliative Care – “You’re allowed to just be the person you are”

Written by Sally Mercer,  St Christopher’s Hospice

As an English Literature student back in the 90’s, I was used to reading about the lives of people at various stages throughout their lives. I didn’t realise then that nearly 20 years later, as a Palliative Care Social Worker, narrative would continue to be central to my practice. My daily work continues to be dedicated to listening to the personal stories of people, and those important to them, at the end of life.

However, much of my work is done in isolation – I work in a community team where I am regularly visiting people in their own homes. Sometimes I meet with the person individually, or with them and those important to them, but the stories and their experiences usually don’t go any further than a discussion with colleagues in a meeting, or at their desk. People’s experience of palliative care is often not discussed, captured or shared outside of the palliative care world – which denies us the ability to develop a collective understanding – in both social work and society as a whole – about what people and their families value at this most important of life stages.

With this in mind, I approached Pat – a man in his 70’s who I have been visiting at home for the last 18 months. My visits with Pat have been in turn frustrating, funny, sad, and emotional. I have supported Pat and his wife in making the heart-breaking decision for her to move into a nursing home, and have worked alongside Pat to manage the ongoing mental and emotional impact of his deteriorating health. Pat had always said that he wanted his experience to be used to help others, and with this in mind we agreed that I’d interview him, and write this article to highlight his experience of palliative care.

….TO READ MORE CLICK BELOW

Pat’s Perspective on Palliative Care Blog

 
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Social care champions: Engaging with social work colleagues in statutory services and working in collaboration in the end of life and palliative aspects of their role

Written by Kevin Chesters, Social Work Team Manager, Douglas Macmillan Hospice

Following participation in the Social Care Champions Workshop held at Loros Hospice in 2014, the social work team at the Douglas Macmillan Hospice started to look at producing an action plan to try and achieve some of the specific goals from the Framework for Social Care at End of Life. This work mainly focused on improving collaborative working with colleagues in adult social care services and linking them into training and education to help improve their knowledge, skills and abilities in supporting people at the end of life.

Progress was slow at first and initial attempts to identify and engage with the leads for education and training for social workers weren’t productive. We feared that our efforts were beginning to reflect some of the concerns raised at the workshops that there was low motivation and disillusionment amongst the social care workforce and no willingness on the part of social work management to fund training for social workers. We persisted though and in 2016 palliative care social worker Jackie Rutter was able to arrange a meeting with the training and development lead for a local partnership NHS trust. The aim of the meeting was to explore and identify a realistic plan to forge stronger links between them and the hospice. A proposal was put forward to facilitate a three day teaching programme to be delivered by lecturing staff within the education department and social workers at the hospice for social care colleagues who showed an interest in end of life and palliative care.

Course aims were for the participants to have a greater understanding of palliative and end of life care, including holistic assessment and communication skills for end of life, the role of social work in end of life and palliative care and for them to be able to relate these to their own areas of professional practice.

The pilot teaching programme was….TO READ MORE CLICK BELOW

Social Care Champions blog – Kevin Chesters

 
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Wherever you go, there you are

Jon Kabat-Zinn said the following in “Wherever you go, There you are”:

“If what happens now does influence what happens next, then doesn’t it make sense to look around a bit from time to time so that you are more in touch with what is happening now, so that you can take your inner and outer bearings and perceive with clarity the path that you are actually on and the direction in which you are going?

If you do so, maybe you will be in a better position to chart a course for yourself that is truer to your inner being- a soul path, a path with heart, your path with a capital P. If not, the sheer momentum of your unconsciousness in this moment just colours the next moment. The days, months, years quickly go by  unnoticed, unused, unappreciated.

No one else can do this job of waking up for us, although our families and friends do sometimes try desperately to get through to us, to help us see more clearly or break out of our own blindness. But waking up is ultimately something that each one of us can do only for ourselves. When it comes down to it, wherever you go, there you are. It’s your life that is unfolding”.

I have used these words at our Multi-Disciplinary Meeting on Tuesdays at the Hospice and have found that when not only applied to myself and my own life but also encouraged patients to apply it to there’s that, there has been a change in their perception of things and themselves, and the situation which they face and, all of us will one day journey upon.

I have shared these words at the Hospice Multi-Disciplinary Meeting on Tuesdays and also with patients.  I have found that they encourage people, including myself, to reconsider how they perceive themselves and the situation which they face.

It is at these times that I have been encouraged to stay within the role as a social worker in Specialist Palliative Care as it encapsulates for me the very purpose in which I came into the profession in the first place.

To effect change and development in a person’s dilemma and reality through encouragement of their strengths and being is a very wonderful gift.

We all face very difficult and awful situations but the wonder of life is that these can be overcome.  Even when facing the final journey there are still obstacles and hurdles which need to be overcome and as a SW I feel very privileged to be asked to accompany a patient on such a journey.

James Neil
Social Worker
St Margaret of Scotland Hospice