Palliative Care, Social Work, and Service Users: Making Life Possible

Palliative Care, Social Work, and Service Users: Making Life Possible

Palliative Care, Social Work, and Service Users: Making Life Possible

Palliative Care, Social Work, and Service Users: Making Life Possible

Synopsis

"This unique book provides a rare look at social work and palliative care from the perspective of service users. It is the first to investigate specialist palliative care social work from this viewpoint. Drawing on new original research, the authors examine service users' experiences of social work and palliative care, tracking their journeys through it and exploring the care they receive and the effects of culture and difference through their first-hand comments and ideas. The writers link service users' critiques with broader debates and developments in social work and palliative care and consider the implications of the book's findings for the formation of policy and practice and for future professional education and training."

Excerpt

As I get older I receive many reminders of my own death. Like most of my contemporaries, I find that what troubles me most is not death itself but what comes before that, not just the possibility of pain, infirmity and intense discomfort but being helpless and in the hands of others. If you are old when you die you already have had many experiences of being treated as an object of no importance, so you know how immensely unpleasant that is. This book is a great comfort to me because it assures me that there are at least some social workers who would treat me the way I wish to be treated.

What I fear is those people whom I regard as being the most dangerous people in the world; that is, the ones who believe that they know what is best for other people. Dangerous people like this have always flourished in the health and social services. Because they believe that they know what is best for others they see no need to enquire how the recipients of their ministrations feel about what they receive. Perhaps they are wise to refrain from asking because they might not be best pleased with what they are told. In this study, where recipients (service users) were actually asked their opinion about the work of social workers in palliative care, they revealed their distrust of social workers generally. Either from their direct personal experience or from media reports they had become profoundly distrustful of the way social workers can use their power against their clients' interests. When the service users discovered that their own social worker in palliative care didn't operate in the traditional 'I know best' way they were relieved and delighted. A frequent comment was that their social worker was 'not like a professional'. Their social worker listened to them, supported them helped them sort out practical problems, and worked in the times and places that best suited the clients.

However, this informal way of working is under great threat from those who believe that they know what is best for other people; that is, those people called managers. Managers like strict, exclusive categories and time sheets. They don't like people, because people ruin theories and systems by not behaving in the way the managers think they should behave. The mental health services now have far too many managers who think that therapy can be prescribed in the way that drugs are prescribed. Such managers would destroy everything which is best in social work in palliative care.

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