Social work and end-of-life care

Social work is important in end-of-life care

End-of-life care doctors should think about child protection

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The GMC’s advice to doctors on what they should do in child protection matters was updated in July. Why am I commenting on this on a blog about end-of-life care? Partly because the advice makes it clear that doctors working with adult patients  should be aware of risks their patients might pose to children. A patient’s increasing frailty, or their worries about their health may precipitate a crisis in the care of a child.

The fact that they are at the end of life also means that children in their lives are going to be cared for by someone else. What are the plans? Even if they are grandparents, their care or involvement in their grandchildren’s life, may be keeping children safe, and their death may mean that a parent is more under pressure and a child more at risk.

So end-of-life care doctors should be looking round at the children in the lives of their patients. Of course, their worries are likely to be passed straight on to social workers: palliative care social workers if available or…just what are the arrangements in your end-of-life care services for worries about child protection?

Another reason for making sure that there are social workers in end-of-life care services. And if you’re a child protection practitioner involved with doctors in some other connection, you might need to think through how to bring this to your medical colleagues’ attention. Because, bearing in mind the large number of ‘musts’ in this document (the GMC says ‘must’ means they’re potentially in trouble if they don’t do it) they ought to be concerning themselves with this.

Link to the GMC guidance on doctors’ responsibilities in child protection

Citation: General Medical Council (2012) Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors. Manchester: GMC.



Written by Malcolm Payne

7 August 2012 at 12:33 pm

Posted in care, children, social work

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