World Social Work Day : 16th March 2021

Published on: 16/03/2021

Ubuntu: I am because WE are.

On Tuesday 16th March Wirral Hospice St John’s marked World Social Work Day. Across the world, social workers celebrated the day (the whole month actually) under the banner of ‘Ubuntu’, a word which encapsulates a 2,000 year old philosophy from Sub-Saharan Africa, which literally translates as ‘humanity’ and can be summed up in the phrase, ‘I am because we are’.

That alludes to the part of our human spirit which infers that, if we look after each other we can all, in some way, be better off. Sometimes, often in fact, that enhanced feeling of wellbeing is because we’ve tried to look out for someone else, that we’ve truly done a good deed; that we’ve helped or we at least tried to.

At Wirral Hospice St John’s, Ubuntu gave us an opportunity to reflect on the work of our own social work team and, obviously, within all the infection and social distancing rules, we shared some cake. There’s always cake!

Not everyone will know that ‘Social Work’ is a key service provided within our Patient and Family Support team. Our social workers, James and Annmarie, are experienced practitioners.

James has been here for five years and previously worked for over 10 years for CLIC Sargent cancer care in support and enablement services for children and young people at both Clatterbridge and the famous Christie’s hospital in Manchester.

Annmarie joined us from Cheshire West and Cheshire (CWAC) where she’d worked for 32 years in various community social work roles. For the 12 years before joining us she was part of CWAC hospitals’ integrated social work team. She has a mine of experience and is now building our expertise in approaches to supporting younger people through further training with the charity, Winston’s Wish, who are experts in the field.

When you spend time with James and Annmarie you just know that they really care. It may well be a ‘given’ that you’d expect from social work professionals but somehow, please speak to them if you get a chance, they transcend those natural requirements.

Listening is a real ‘skill’. They ‘hear’ what patients, families and other people important to them are asking and are able to offer the most helpful and practical advice.

People’s peace of mind is their vocation.

Patients can consult with our social workers and they can also choose to bring family members or other people they trust into any relevant conversations about their ultimate wellbeing.

A life-limiting illness brings its own challenges so when someone can signpost a range of support, from disability and other benefits, to housing advice, community services, liaison with other charities, services which can further help and schools you can be sure you’re in safe hands.

People who have been with us in our Inpatients ward often go home, or to their particular home environment, having agreed packages of care which are coordinated by the social work team. Discussions about advance care planning means that patients express what is important to them now and in the future.

As well as bringing in partner agencies where necessary, further help for people’s emotional, physical, spiritual and psychological wellbeing is accessed through other hospice professionals in the Patient and Family Support Services team. Help through counselling, spiritual support, physiotherapy, aromatherapy and occupational therapy are all available at the hospice to support each individual patient’s requirements.

Our social workers, James and Annmarie, will continue to strive to find positive ways forward in the challenges our patients and their families face in their lives. They’ll always put our whole community at the heart of all they do and, in the spirit of Ubuntu, we can sign off by saying to them;

WE are, because YOU are!