14th March 2022

Social Work Week 2022

A truly exceptional team who in their normal working day always go that extra mile to offer support and guidance to those who need it.”

Specialist Palliative Care Social Workers at St Richard’s Hospice offer a variety of support to patients, and those who are important to them.

During Social Work Week 2022, we take a look at the work of our dedicated team and the difference they make to the patients and families they support.

What support does the social work team provide?

  • Practical help, such as arranging discharge packages, accessing resources and services for patients and their families
  • Referring people for support within the hospice, such as to the Citizen’s Advice advisers or the counselling team
  • Training to staff at schools and colleges, supporting them to help children and young people through their bereavement journey
  • Psychosocial support, using their skills to support patients to prepare for the end of their lives
  • Bereavement care for people throughout their journey with the hospice

What does social work mean to me?

The theme for this year’s campaign week is ‘social work and me’.

So, what does social work mean to Sarah Popplestone-Helm – our Head of Family Support Services?

A woman with shoulder length white hair stands in front of a grey, wooden wall. She is wearing a bright red cardigan and purple top.
Sarah Popplestone-Helm, Head of Family Support Services

“Having been a social worker for nearly 40 years, I’ve had quite a long time to consider this question!

“In that time, I’ve had the privilege to support people facing really difficult times.

“The fact they share their feelings, fears, tears and sometimes joys with me has been a true honour.

“Working with my team has made being a social worker a wonderful profession to be part of. I feel very proud to be a social worker.”

Meet Andy Schwab, a Specialist Palliative Care Social Worker here at St Richard’s 👋

Here Andy shares what social work – and his role at St Richard’s – means to him:

Andy smiles at the camera wearing a black hoodie and glasses. Behind him is a purple wall.
Andrew Schwab, Specialist Palliative Care Social Worker

“The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a social worker as:

‘a person who is trained to help people who are at a mental, physical, economic, or social disadvantage.’

“The reality of palliative care social work is the people we support do not always fit this definition.

“This month, my work has taken me to a private school, a local comprehensive, a school that caters for children with special educational needs, and a unit that supports children with emotional and behavioural problems.

“I work from home, on the In-patient Unit (IPU) at the hospice, and out in the community to support people in their homes.

“The need for our support is not confined to those “at a mental, physical, economic, or social disadvantage.”

“I’m telling you because it’s Social Work Week, and the variety of my job is a huge part of why I love what I do.

“My social work colleagues and I provide emotional and practical support to patients on our IPU, and their family members.

“We can complete Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications. And, we help patients with ongoing care, support, and living arrangements on their discharge from IPU.

“Often, our community work leads to us delivering emotional support.

“We help arrange packages of care, manage safeguarding concerns, and – especially during the pandemic – deliver training sessions to those who support the people we can’t see in person.

“There are so many inspiring, joyous and often incredibly sad stories I could tell from my time working in palliative care social work.

“I am so fortunate to work alongside a fantastic team in family support. And, I am inspired by my magnificent colleagues in IPU, Living Well, and the Community Team.

“Theodore Roosevelt said: ‘Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.’

“In our role we laugh, cry, reflect, debate and support each other. But the ultimate reward is to work hard with teams across the hospice at work worth doing.”

A day in the life of our social work team

Take a behind-the-scenes look at snapshots from a typical day for our social work team.

This was written in 2021. The team is now opening up its services to see more clients face-to-face at our hospice in Worcester.

Take a look at a typical day in the life of our Social Work Team.