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Social work perspectives on family communication and family conferences in palliative care.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Progress in Palliative Care
Issue number4
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)213-220
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


High-quality palliative care includes effective communication with families, including the patient. Regardless of family composition, the family is the core social context for a patient's illness experience. The family serves as a key source of support, and strain, for many people, and it is recognised as the unit of care in palliative care and care settings of those with life-limiting illness. As a result, communication with families is a key aspect of palliative care but one for which few professionals are well-prepared. Social workers are particularly trained and positioned to work with families, bringing expertise to family care in the palliative care setting. The theoretical approaches and clinical skills applied by social workers make them logical leaders for practice and guidance in family-oriented communication and care. Healthcare providers, particularly social workers, assess and explore diverse aspects of family life when caring for families and planning communication with family members, including the patient. These family considerations are discussed in this article as they are central to building appropriate family communication. While communication with families takes place in numerous forms and configurations, family conferences are recognised as an important part of the work with families in the setting of palliative care. An overview of family conferences offers information about this form of communication with specific attention to distinctive contributions of social workers. Effective communication by the healthcare team has a tremendous effect on the experience of families facing life-threatening illness and the loss of a family member.