The Role of Social Work in Paediatric Palliative Care

Social Workers in Paediatric Palliative Care work within an interdisciplinary team. They aim to help alleviate many of the challenges faced by children or young people with life-limiting illnesses, and their families and communities. Given the complexity of the issues faced by everyone involved in the child or young person’s life, the social work interventions called for are similarly complex and various.

Social Workers can provide counselling to the child, their siblings, parents and grandparents around a variety of issues. These might include adjustment to diagnosis/prognosis, anticipatory grief or bereavement.

As the length of involvement of a Paediatric Palliative Care Service may vary from short-term to many years, social work interventions occur at home and in the community, and also in the hospital in both an inpatient and outpatient setting. The social work role also involves working for systemic change so that the needs of patients and families can be better met. Some of the interventions that may be needed include;

  • Assessments
  • Counselling
  • Supporting families during times of crisis and distress
  • Providing education and information
  • Advocating for the patient and family
  • Assisting with discharge planning
  • Referrals to community agencies and supports
  • Liaising with other hospitals and community health services
  • Providing group programs
  • Accessing practical and material assistance
  • Research into the needs of patients and their families and publishing the findings
  • Presenting at conferences
  • Participating on committees and active membership of professional groups that can influence policies and practices in the field

By working closely with patients, their families and communities, and with other members of the interdisciplinary team, social workers aim to assist the child or young person with a life-limiting illness and their family as they navigate the many challenges that occur along the way. They also aim to assist everyone to take the opportunities that are present for growth, understanding and acceptance.

If you would like further information or to talk to a Paediatric Palliative Care Social Workerer please contact:

Social Worker: Paediatric Palliative Care Service
John Hunter Children’s Hospital
Mobile:  0408 823 392

Social Worker: Paediatric Palliative Care Service
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead
Phone: (02) 9845 2617

Social Worker: Paediatric Palliative Care Service
Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick
Phone: (02) 9382 1021