Prieto-Lobato, J. M., De la Rosa-Gimeno, P., Rodríguez-Sumaza, C., Marquina-Márquez, A., & Lucas-García, J. A. (2023). Social work at the end of life: Humanization of the process. Journal of Social Work, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/14680173231206713
Summary. This paper examines the role of social workers involved in a pilot home care project undertaken to attend the social needs of people at the end of their lives and their carers. Mixed methods approach and evidence-based, constructivist and comprehensive evaluation were chosen to achieve this aim. Analyses are based on 235 responses from a survey addressed to professionals working in the project, 22 in-depth interviews with a selected group of these professionals and 114 semi-structured interviews with the sick people and their caregivers. The analysis of the data has considered the theoretical development and professional experience systematised in the Spanish and international literature on social work in end-of-life care.
Findings. The results highlight the relevance that professionals, patients and carers attribute to social care at the end of life and to the role, skills and qualities of social workers. Their contribution has been valued in terms of the management of services and supports (speed, availability, kindness, sensitivity), the establishment of teamwork (coordination, facilitation) and the recognition of the basic principles of the care process (individualisation, respect for privacy, confidentiality).
Applications. Findings demonstrate that social work is a profession well placed to help in the recognition of people’s dignity at the end of life, in the exercise of their self-determination and in the humanisation of the care process. Some challenges facing consolidation of this professional practice are also indicated within a framework constrained by a predominantly biomedical culture.
Key words: Social work; End-of-life care; Home care; Social needs; Professional competences.