The diversity of roles, tasks and education of palliative care social workers in Europe

The taskforce was established beginning of the year 2009.

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

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


  • 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.


2014 Sept 
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

2014 Jan
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.
2013 Nov/Dec
Paper on Tasks and Roles of Palliative Care Social Workers in Europe redraft after consultation with steering group
2013 May
Preconference Workshop on Palliative Care Social Work at the EAPC World Congress in Prague
2012 Jan
Susan Cadell from Canada, external palliative social work consultant to the task force visits Social Workers in Ireland and UK

2011 Nov
Conference on Palliative Care Social Work organised by member of the steering group in Holland
2011 Oct 
Meeting of Palliative Care Social Workers from Central and Eastern Europe in Bucharest
2011 June
Meeting in Romania with Palliative Care Social Workers
2011 May
Meet the Expert Session at Lisbon EAPC conference
2010 Aug
Progress in Palliative Care Journal special edition on palliative care social work published. Editors Ruth Powaski, David Oliviere, Pam Firth
2010 July 
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
2010 May
Quality Assurance Criteria for Medical Social Workers in Palliative Care published by Swedish Palliative Care Social workers

- Meeting of social workers in Amsterdam with Pam Firth
- EAPC conference "Meet the Expert Social Work Meeting" Vienna
- Decision to apply for a task force in EAPC
- Social Work in End of Life and palliative care: Rieth and Payne published by Policy Press      in UK


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

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


Steering Committee

Maria Wasner - Germany

Jose Van Nus - The Netherlands

Tiziana Mondin - Italia

Irene Murphy - Ireland

Carla Reigada - Portugal

Petruta Anania - Romania

Inger Benkel - Sweden

Advisory members
Susan Cadell - Canada

Ruth Powazki - USA


Click on the logo to read posts relating to other EAPC task forces and reference groups. You can also read posts about social work and palliative care here. Many have been contributed by our task force/reference group members