Social Work and Child Life: A Family's Journey with Childhood Cancer

Ellen Goldring and Judith Solomon

in Oxford Textbook of Palliative Social Work

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199739110
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199975143 | DOI:
Social Work and Child Life: A Family's Journey with Childhood Cancer

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  • Palliative Medicine
  • Communication Skills
  • Community Medical Services


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This textbook on palliative social work is a companion volume to the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine and the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Nursing. To that end, this chapter will accomplish the following:

Family-centered care is at the core of effective psychosocial assessment and planning. The patient is assumed to be part of the family unit, and all members are assessed and worked with.

Team collaboration emphasizes the unique role of each profession. The goal of the team is to ensure quality of life for the pediatric patient and his or her family coping with a life-threatening illness.

Continuity of care allows the social worker and child life specialist to work with the patient/family in all units of the hospital, including inpatient and outpatient departments, from diagnosis to end of life, and bereavement, allowing professionals the opportunity to put into practice the components of palliative care.

The social worker's role includes educating the medical/nursing staff about marginalized populations and its impact on patient and family's coping style to facilitate understanding, tolerance, and respect for the family and patient.

The child life specialist focuses on the developmental needs of pediatric patients throughout all stages of treatment and therefore needs to be skilled in developmental interventions for the dying child or teen.

Bereavement services offer the family the opportunity to share the impact of the loss and give the family the time they need to mourn with professionals who were connected to their child. Comfort is found in working with professionals who accompanied the family on their journey from diagnosis to death.

Chapter.  5132 words. 

Subjects: Palliative Medicine ; Communication Skills ; Community Medical Services

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