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Thursday, 15 September 2016

Death and dying explored at major social work conference

Written by The Editorial Team

An understanding of death is at the heart of social work practice through direct interaction with the dying and their families, encountering bereaved service users, and with the risk of death across safeguarding procedures for children and adults.

It was this topic on September 6 that saw the first conference address these issues together with practitioners from across the UK.

Planned collaboratively by the Department of Childhood, Social Work, and Social Care at University of Chichester, the national Child Bereavement UK organisation, and the University of Sussex, it was hosted by the latter at its Falmer campus.

The day started with one of two keynote speakers - Andrew Cooper - who works at the Tavistock Clinic. Andrew began the day talking about the importance that dead people have played in his life from firing up aspirational hopes to life affirming statements that have stayed with him and occasionally guide his thinking.

Pam Firth was the second of the keynote speakers who started the afternoon off by looking at what social workers need to know in order to provide a good service at what can be a very difficult time in someone’s life when they face their own death or the death of someone close to them. Pam now works as an international social worker as well as providing supervision for people who work in palliative of end of life care.

Marie Price, a Senior Lecturer in Childhood, Social Work, and Social Care at the University of Chichester, said: “The day was a great success with nearly twenty people presenting a diverse range of ideas from spirituality and the potential for it to be marginalised until someone is facing their own death to creating a digital self for after death.”

The day also explored the interrelated nature of the subject matter and verified the importance of being able to have those difficult conversations. Information was provided by people undertaking research in various fields as well as from anecdotal evidence. Speakers also included Dr Denise Turner, a Lecturer in Social Work from the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sussex.

Ms Price added: “There was much networking and sharing of ideas and I for one hope it will be the first of many conferences. This forum continued to highlight the need for more research into this area along with, essentially, considering the needs of children. I’m hoping that the conference we have planned at Chichester University on the 20th of October 2017 will go some way to providing a forum for this work.”

To find out more about the conference contact Ms Marie Price at