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

Interested in learning more about this task force? Come along to the open meeting at the 16th World Congress of the EAPC in Berlin Friday, 24 May 2019 12:55–14:15 Paris Room

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.


2019 Sept: Commencement of in depth look at the Education needs of Palliative Care Social Work

2019 July: Survey results and analysis published and completed.

2019 May: Meet the Expert session at the World Congress in Berlin. Focussing on palliative care social work with the LGBT community

2018 Nov: first draft of the survey is completed. Sent to publisher December 2018

2018 Sept: Czech member of the task force attends the Association of Palliative Care Social Workers Conference

2017 Sept: Pam Firth attended the National Social Work Conference in Czech Republic

2017 May: Survey results being analysed

2017: Parallel session for palliative care social workers at the World Congress in Madrid.

2016 Survey collection

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

Marie Mackova - Czech Republic

Sean Hughes - UK

Advisory members
Susan Cadell - Canada

Ruth Powazki - USA


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You can also read posts relating to other EAPC task forces and reference groups here, many of which have been contributed by our task force/reference group members.