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Know your colleagues: role of social work in end-of-life care
  1. Malcolm Payne, Director, Psycho-social and Spiritual Care
  1. St Christopher’s Hospice, Sydenham, London, Emeritus Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Honorary Professor, Kingston University/St George’s Medical School, Kingston-upon-Thames. Email: m.payne{at}


Effective care at the end of life requires input from all members of the multidisciplinary team. Nurses working in all settings need to be aware of the different roles and expertise of other professionals so that they can refer patients accordingly. This article will describe to nurses the role of social workers. Social work differs from medicine and nursing in that it is not a health care profession. Instead its practice aims to integrate social justice and social problem-solving with personal help in order to empower people and enhance their wellbeing. Social work should not be equated with counselling, taking children into care or merely sorting out social security or discharge problems. Within this article a detailed case study will illustrate how these different aspects of social work are integrated within end-of-life care. Declaration of interests: none

  • Empowerment
  • End-of-life care
  • Family relationships
  • Social change
  • Social work
  • Problem-solving

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