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A day in the life of a hospice Social Work Team.

We, the Social Work team, are Rosy Adams, Siobhan McKibbin, and Emily Murray and although our experiences, both personally and professionally have been different, we all share a passion for supporting families and this has led us to Palliative Care Social Work.

Our role in the hospice is varied and includes spending time with patients and their families, providing emotional and psychological support.  Every person has lived their own journey before accessing hospice services – often this journey has been difficult.  We work with patients and families and take time to reflect, reassess, and ‘just be’.  Often, we help ‘open up’ conversations within families and provide support for the family to have ‘difficult conversations’.  We also support parents to have age-appropriate conversations with their children re illness/death. 

Our responsibilities include helping to make plans to support patients who wish to go home, ensuring they have access to support services in the community to help meet their needs. At all times we try our best to advocate on the patient’s behalf.  We listen and create a safe space for people to share their experiences of illness and talk about their hopes and fears for the future.

Bereavement support is provided to both adults and children by the social work team. One area we are all passionate about is our children’s bereavement groups. It is inspiring to be part of such a group - the children can gain so much from hearing from one another’s experiences and we are consistently amazed at the resilience children can show.

Working with our chaplaincy colleagues, the bereavement walking groups in Newry and Dungannon are a great success.  They give group members the opportunity to meet others with similar experiences of bereavement and provide the opportunity to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of nature, exercise, and of course a nice cuppa - never underestimate the importance of a good chat shared over a cuppa!

We all really enjoy the varied nature of our work as palliative care social workers, including working as part of the multi-disciplinary team – sharing with and learning from our dedicated colleagues.