Social work and end-of-life care

Social work is important in end-of-life care

Criticism of assisted dying is not only religious: if it becomes law, social workers will have to be involved

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130108 Tags humanistThe British Humanist Association (BHA) broadly supports assisted suicide, although it’s not a big thing for them – most of their lobbying and promotional work is around various aspects of education. However, they do maintain a ‘tag archive’ which lists various newspaper articles which support their views, and other pieces. It’s obviously done very erratically, so it’s not comprehensive, but it goes back a long way; some of the tags go back to 2009, so you can follow that part of the debate of interest to the BHA back for some time.

Link to the BHA Tag Archive on assisted dying.

Most of their links are about how religious interest groups are the main supporters of ‘assisted dying’ or ‘assisted suicide’ as one of the commentators on a post puts it. You can see their arguments neatly put by Naomi Phillips, the BHA’s head of public affairs (that is, their PR person).

Link to Naomi Phillips’s article.

My comment is that their particular interest does not really recognise the range of views about the problems of assisted dying, particularly from the professionals who would have to do it. This includes social workers, who are sometimes surprised by this because they see it as a medical decision to help or not, and generally support people’s self-determination on issues affecting their own lives.

Of course, suicide is legal, so it’s reasonable for social workers to take the line that people should be free to make their own decisions. But all social workers know how pressure, subtle and not-so-subtle, can be put on people by their family or others who are important to them to do the ‘right thing’. Social workers will also be affected if assisted dying does become law, because it’s likely that health and social care agencies will get social workers to do the family investigations. there will also be a call on existing social work records to see what the history of family pressures and potential suicides’ views were in the past. This means that social workers will have to consider everything they write about what older people, people with long-term conditions and disabled people think about the killing themselves if their physical condition or disability gets worse, in case their record gets used at some time in the future to find out whether the person has changed their views.




Written by Malcolm Payne

14 January 2013 at 9:01 am

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