Through the work of the Association and its members, the role of palliative care social work will be highly valued by people with life limiting illnesses, the people that are important to them, those that support them, communities, clinicians and the wider social work profession and viewed as core to the delivery of excellent palliative, end of life and bereavement care.
To raise the profile of palliative care social work
To support and advise all palliative care social workers wherever they work
To inspire excellence by sharing best practice
To promote high quality research and evaluation in order to continually improve end-of-life and bereavement care.
The Association of Palliative Care Social Workers, originally the Association of Hospice Social Workers, was proposed by a small group of practitioners in 1986 and established in 1987. Our first Chair, Elizabeth Earnshaw-Smith, was a pioneer, and under her leadership, the association set out to support each other so that together they could effect change for the people that they were working with, and grow their work wherever they were employed.
Their vision was to uphold core social work values within palliative care and better promote the needs and wishes of people living with palliative illness and those close to them within their organisations, locally and nationally. They were opportunists and took advantage of whatever came along. One huge achievement was their lobbying of parliament to change the law, and establish the ‘special rules’ for terminally ill patients applying for Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance, still benefiting people today.
The Association’s regional structure emerged early on, and members met together for mutual support and to share knowledge and experience. On the strength of their success and the quality of their work, new palliative care social work posts were developed, and the membership grew.
Today the Association stands on the shoulders of these giants and those that came after them. At the 2014 National Conference, members heard with amazement from Julia Franklin, one of the founding members, that just a few social workers meeting over cucumber sandwiches at a London hotel managed to effect change at a national and international level. She said 'we were like the blind leading the blind and opportunists mostly, doing what we could from where we were'. Her exhortation was to take up the baton; to carry on and keep going.