Social workers forge new partnerships to improve end of life care

Categories: Education.

In 2010 the National End of Life Care Programme (NEoLCP) set out to “establish a network of champions for end of life care within social care, who can act as drivers for change.” [1]

As part of this work, NEoLCP and Macmillan provided funding to the APCSW to provide education in end of life care for social workers.

This funding was used to run one-day workshops in four regional centres in England during 2014 for specialist palliative care social workers and colleagues in mainstream services. The aim was to raise the profile of end of life care and support closer collaboration between social workers in different settings.

The style of the workshops was highly interactive and participative, with a mixed attendance of social workers from specialist palliative care services, social workers based in community and hospital settings and social workers who held a brief to work across different services.

As well as sharing information about innovative work that was already underway, participants at the workshops identified some of the barriers or challenges to closer working and together came up with practical solutions to these.

At the end of the workshops each participant wrote a specific action plan for themselves, to take away as a spur to ‘being persistent’ (identified as one of the biggest challenges).

The Association’s report on the learning from the workshops was launched at a national event in York in March this year, with a follow up event in London on 26 June.

The report provides a distillation of the rich variety of examples of new projects and creative collaborations that were shared at the regional workshops.

Examples included education initiatives for social work and health staff and for social work students, cross-sector meetings and working groups at many levels, dedicated liaison roles, formal links between agencies and joint commissioning.

The findings of the report are exciting and encouraging but highlight that developments are patchy and tend to be dependent on the energy and enthusiasm of dedicated individuals. It is clear that much more needs to be done to make sure that all social workers who work with people at the end of their lives have the knowledge and skills they need to provide a reliable standard of advice and support.

The report summarises the information, problem solving and action plans that were developed at the workshops. It provides a practical guide and training tool to support social workers and others who are seeking to improve their ability to work collaboratively with colleagues in other organisations to improve end of life care.

Download the full report: Social care champions workshops project 2014: A report commissioned by APCSW, March 2015


  1. Department of Health. Supporting People to live and die well: a framework for social care at the end of life. Department of Health; 2010.

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