SOCIAL WORK AND PALLIATIVE CARE

By Alejandra Peñaranda.

Social Worker at the CUDECA FOUNDATION.

Trains at Crossfit Fuengirola.

To approach the social intervention in Palliative Care:

On the one hand we try to understand that when an illness breaks out within the family, it doesn´t only affect the patient but also those close to the patient.  This vision of assistance to a patient/family unit is one of our main pillars.

On the other hand, the idea that suffering is not only physical, motivates aid work that takes into account all areas of the person and all the various manifestations that illness can have. Patients can suffer from the loss of autonomy and the increasing need for assistance from a third party. Their social networks appear damaged, they become uncertain about what will become of their family, they can perceive loss of control and less participation in decision making.

Meanwhile, the family may feel overloaded with the work involved in caring; feelings of guilt, of not being able to cover everything that the situation requires or feelings of confusion and uncertainty. They can also make mistakes regarding economic, labour and social issues .

This holistic view of suffering makes attendance necessary through interdisciplinary teams. This may include Doctors, Nurses, Psychologists, Social Workers, Spiritual Counsellors, Therapists, Assistants and Volunteers.

In the field of Psychosocial Care, as a Social Worker I carry out an assessment of the social-family context which includes the composition and functioning of the family, organisation of care, emotional and economic aspects among others and to work on the family needs perceived as such. Also what I see as a professional – giving advice and guidance needed for proper resource management. This may include various actions related to formal caregivers, residential care, safety at home, economic benefits or public aid carers.

It also intervenes to enhance the capacities of the family, providing support and commitment and accompanying the difficulties that may arise throughout the process of illness.

In short, the Social Worker is a key element in alleviating the suffering of patients towards the end of their lives and of helping their loved ones as it handles occupational, economical, and familial factors, and especially in seeking to ensure continuity and quality of patient care.

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