Developing capacity in end-of-life and bereavement care: hospices and schools

Sally Paul, Viviene Cree, Scott Murray

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Background: The author was a hospice social worker responsible for coordinating a children’s bereavement service in Scotland. Often referrals to the service did not require specialised support and could have been managed within the child’s existing community networks. These practice experiences echoed movements within end-of-life care policy and practice that recognise the importance of communities in supporting and enabling positive end-of-life and bereavement care. This identifies the significance of a public health approach to palliative care that seeks to develop the capacity of communities to manage and support end-of-life and bereavement experiences.
    Aims: To extend the work of a hospice to engage with local primary schools to advance education and support around death, dying and bereavement; and to explore the role of social work in working with communities around palliative care.
    Methods: An action research approach was employed with two primary schools in Scotland. Participants included children aged 9–12 years, parents, teachers and hospice staff who participated in a series of interviews and focus groups to identify better practice and engage in change processes.
    Results: Seven innovations were identified that were of relevance to the school curriculum and the relationship between hospices, school communities and wider society. The innovations involved refocusing the social work role on more proactive work with communities that prioritised both sharing and co-producing knowledge and expertise.
    Conclusions: Developed practice suggestions require a reorientation of both hospice and school services. Transferring professional knowledge across hospice and school settings is essential for the development of successful and sustainable practice that engages and supports children on issues related to death, dying and bereavement. Social work has a significant role in the development of public health approaches to palliative care.

    The research was funded by Strathcarron Hospice
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 19 May 2017
    Event15th World Congress of the European Association of Palliative Care Conference: Progressing Palliative Care - Madrid, Spain
    Duration: 17 May 201720 May 2017


    Conference15th World Congress of the European Association of Palliative Care Conference


    • working with children
    • local hospices
    • primary schools
    • public health and palliative care

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