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Social Work

Social Work/Bereavement

Social Workers have been employed by the Galway Hospice Foundation since 2001.  They provide a service to Palliative Care patients at the Hospice and in their homes.  Social Workers are concerned with aspects of psychosocial care of patients and their families both before and after death. Their role is outlined below: 

Palliative Care
Social Workers contribute to the psychosocial care of patients and families by:
• Assessing family circumstances at a social, emotional and practical level
• Responding to the areas of need identified in the assessment by providing supports at a practical level, for example linking the family with community services
• Providing emotional support to patients and families in living with the impact  of advanced illness through to the terminal phase
• Advising parents and guardians on how to care for children during the palliative phase of illness
• Working directly with children and parents to support them as they face the death of a family member or friend

Bereavement Service
The social work department offers bereavement support to family and friends of patients who availed of Galway Hospice services including Inpatient Unit, Home Care and Day Care.  Contact is initially made with families by letter outlining the availability of individual support.  This letter is followed up by telephone contact from the social worker.

The Bereavement Support currently offered is as follows:
• Individual support to bereaved adults 
This allows the individual to talk about their loss and to receive emotional and counselling support
• Individual support to bereaved children and young people
The department works with children who have lost a parent, sibling, grandparent or another person who was significant in their lives through death.  Through age-appropriate therapeutic activities the child or young person is facilitated in:
 - Understanding the impact of loss on their lives
 - Acknowledging and dealing with the grief feelings they experience
 - Memoralising the deceased
 - Enhancing communication with their surviving parent or guardian
 - Exploring issues of self-care and the support the child has
Some of the activities used include art, clay, games and writing
• Support to parents in caring for bereaved children
This entails assessing the child’s reaction to the loss by meeting the parent and providing guidance and resources to help the parent support the bereaved child
• Family Support
This involves assessment of how family members are coping with the bereavement on an individual level and working with them to encourage open communication and discussion amongst the family unit
• Group work with bereaved children and young people
The department facilitates a group work programme for bereaved children and young people who are known to Galway Hospice services. The main aim of the  group is to allow bereaved children to meet with others of a similar age who have
experienced the death of someone in their lives
• Group work with bereaved adults
Group work with bereaved adults provides the opportunity for participants to avail of  peer support. Groups are offered to people grieving the death of their spouse, their  sibling or their child. These groups are offered depending on demand and resources available.
Bereavement support is also provided by the Pastoral Care Chaplain.

Education and Training
The social work department offers training and education on the following areas:
• Illness and loss
• Psychosocial assessment
• Communication
• The needs of children in the palliative phase of illness
• Bereavement
  - theories
  - children + bereavement
  - group work with bereaved children

This training is provided in-house for Galway Hospice staff and volunteers, local community groups and the National University of Ireland Galway.

For further information on these services you can contact the social work department based at Galway Hospice as follows:

Galway Hospice Foundation
Renmore
Galway
Tel: 091 770868
Fax: 091 770806
Email: socialwork@galwayhospice.ie