Social Work: Family Information for Programme Website

What is the role of a social worker in paediatric palliative care?

Working alongside other members of the palliative care team, the Social Worker aims to help to reduce some of the many challenges faced by children with life-limiting illnesses and their families. This usually involves assisting people with managing change in their lives that will occur throughout a child’s illness. After spending time with a patient and family to identify their needs, the social worker assists patients and families to find ways to improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

What types of support can be offered by a social worker to my child and family?

The social worker can provide families with information and advice about different supports that are available in the hospital and community. They can also assist families to connect with government and non-government agencies to address each family’s individual needs and help with the application process. Counselling for patients, parents and other family members is also offered as needed in hospital, at home or within their local community (including via videoconference). 

Do I need to have a social worker? Why is it important?

A family can choose if they would like to access the social work service. If you feel like you are struggling, facing major challenges alone, or that you are in a crisis, a social worker may be able to help you. Social workers are trained to recognise when a person is experiencing the above. Even if you are feeling perhaps a little unsure about your situation, a social worker may be able to help you gain a clearer understanding of what is occurring. In particular social workers support individuals, groups and communities to recognise and develop their own strengths to access the available services and resources they need.


How is the palliative care social worker different to the social worker who is connected to my child’s main medical team?

The social worker in your child’s medical team remains a key person for you. Palliative care social workers have experience and expertise in working with families who have a child with a life limiting condition, therefore adding an extra layer of support for the family throughout the illness, during end of life and bereavement. Palliative care social workers have insights and access to additional resources which may provide support and guidance to assist you with choices and decision making. 


Who do I talk to if I want to find out more about the palliative care social worker?

The social worker will usually introduce themselves when a referral is made to palliative care.  Alternatively you can speak with any member of the palliative care team.