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The EAPC task force to examine the diversity of roles, tasks and education of palliative care social workers in Europe

The taskforce was established beginning of the year 2009.

Report on the pre-congress meeting of the EAPC task force

A report by Andrea Dechamps on the EAPC Pre-Conference Workshop held in Prague on 30 May 2013 can be downloaded HERE


End of life Care Strategy in UK recommend that care is delivered through close multi-disciplinary and interagency working, partnerships and available networks. We have evidence that the role of specialist social workers has been under threat and yet the evidence from Service users is that they value their interventions. There is also a tendency to see the needs of patients and families in terms of pschological not psychosocial. This belies the knowledge that death and dying are social events. Social Workers basic training about working with families makes them uniquely positioned to see the patient within his family and social networks.

Aims and Objectives

  • To offer leadership to social workers in End of Life and Palliative Care across Europe
  • To identify the diversity of tasks and roles
  • To examine the skills needed
  • To complete a white paper prior to taking a more in depth look at specialist education
  • To consider the provision of specialist education
  • To produce a curriculum for postgraduate education.

Steps and milestones

  • March 2009 Meeting of social workers in Amsterdam with Pam Firth
  • 2009 EAPC conference "Meet the Expert Social Work Meeting" Vienna
  • Decision to apply for a task force in EAPC
  • 2009 Social Work in End of Life and palliative care: Rieth and Payne published by Policy Press in UK
  • May 2010 Quality Assurance Criteria for Medical Social Workers in Palliative Care published by Swedish Palliative Care Social workers
  • July 2010 UK End of Life Care Social Care Strategy published recommending that palliative care social workers become consultants and educators for general social workers. All basic social work training to include knowlege about EoLC
  • August 2010 Progress in Palliative Care Journal special edition on palliative care social work published. Editors Ruth Powaski, David Oliviere, Pam Firth
  • 2011 Meet the Expert Session at Lisbon EAPC conference
  • June 2011 Meeting in Romania with Palliative Care Social Workers
  • October 2011 Meeting of Palliative Care Social Workers from Central and Eastern Europe in Bucharest
  • November 2011 Conference on Palliative Care Social Work organised by member of the steering group in Holland
  • January 2012 Susan Cadell from Canada, external palliative social work consultant to the task force visits Social Workers in Ireland and UK
  • May 2013 Preconference Workshop on Palliative Care Social Work at the EAPC World Congress in Prague
  • November/December 2013 Paper on Tasks and Roles of Palliative Care Social Workers in Europe redraft after consultation with steering group
  • January 2014 final Draft of the paper entitled, Core Competencies on Palliative Care Social Work sent to the EAPC Board for consideration. Dr Sean Hughes joins the team to write the white paper.
  • September 2014 . The draft task force survey looking at the tasks and roles of palliative care social worker is pilot tested at the annual conference of the UK Association of Palliative Care social Workers
  • 7th November 2014 White paper published in the European Journal of Palliative Medicine 2014. 21(6)300-305 entitled Core competencies for palliative care social work in Europe: an EAPC White Paper-Part1
  • 28th January 2015 the second part of the white paper is published in the European Journal of Palliative Medicine 2015.22(1)36-44 entitled  Core competencies for palliative care social work in Europe: an EAPC White paper-Part2


The Association of Palliative Care Social Workers UK

St Christophers Hospice UK

The task force leaders are in touch with palliative care social work groups in USA, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Holland, Portugal, Ireland and Romania.



Pam Firth
Independent Consultant in Psychosocial Palliative Care.
International Palliative Care Social Work Expert Co Chair EAPC Social Work Task Force
click here to contact by email

Karl W. Bitschnau
Dr.phil. and MAS (Palliative Care)
Head of Hospice Vorarlberg
Vice President Hospice Austria
Feldkirch, Austria

click here to contact by email


Steering Committee

Maria Wasner

The Netherlands
Jose Van Nus

Tiziana Mondin

Irene Murphy

Carla Reigada

Petruta Anania


Inger Benkel

Advisory members

Susan Cadell

Ruth Powazki



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